Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Black Potatoes and Rare Peas

I've just acquired a few tubers of another old black spud called Negresse (yes I know, the name makes me cringe as much as anyone!). It's a 19th-Century French variety; the name should come adorned with accents, only I've no idea how to add them. It may well be another strain of the same variety. I'm going to grow both and see how they compare. If they survive the blight long enough to do anything that is, since they're extremely late maincrops. Many thanks to Ian for the parcel.

Supposedly, Vitelotte originated as an import from Peru. If so, then it's quite possible that there may be some genetic stability in it, or that several slightly different versions were brought over. It would be interesting to try hand-pollinating flowers, and see what grows from the seed.

Another parcel which arrived this morning, from Grunt, in Canada, contained Kent Blue Peas, the variety which launched my search for rarities, Carruthers' Purple Podded, supposed to be particularly tasty, and Ezethas Krombek Blauwshok. Kent Blue seeds are small, slightly dimpled, and adorned with purple speckles, which appear again on Carruthers, but not to the same extent. Krombek is a farm in Western Cape, South Africa, so was the variety bred, or preserved there, I wonder?

Meanwhile I'm planting peas like mad, but I've got the worst cold I've had in years, and that's about all I'm managing to do.


  1. Don't you just LOVE peas?
    My Ezetha's have just gone outside round a wigwam, as have Goldensweet. Kent Blue have been outside for a couple of weeks . I've not grown these before and the leaves are very dark.

    I hope the weather (and mice!) treat you better this year.

  2. Kent Blue is a really interesting one to have. My seeds are green with purple speckles; Rebsie's were brown. They're almost round, and I imagine something like this was probably the ancestor of round-seeded varieties like Meteor and Feltham First which are still commercially available today. From there it's only a mutation to the wrinkle-seeded green peas.

  3. I am growing Vitelotte this year! They do quite well for me here on my London clay.

  4. I was your post about that. Interesting that you also got it on a stall. Was the owner sure of the name? I've now got tubers of Congo and Negresse for comparison, if we escape blight this year.

  5. As far as I understand 'Krombek' has nothing to do with South Africa. Rather it is a Dutch pea and the 'krom bek' ie 'curved beak' relates to the shape of the pod or the shape of the little 'tail' on this variety.

  6. I'll get to the bottom of it eventually!

  7. Some more black potatoes here: