Tuesday 11 December 2018

Heritage Seed Library Order & Peas Boiling HARD

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I'm a little obsessed with seeds!

And when I joined our local seed swap group last year it seemed logical for me to join the Heritage Seed Library as well. 

They're part of the charity Garden Organic who try to promote organic gardening. They keep a bank of old varieties of seed that they are trying to prevent from going extinct with members breeding them each year. 

Each year as a member of the HSL you can pick six packs of seed from the list. The idea that you grow a few to taste and the rest to save for seed. The pack size is quite small so it might take a few years before you have enough seed saved to be worth sending back in to the library, instead spending your time to build a reserve. 

Last year was utter chaos for growing for me and I'm glad that I didn't have the last few seeds of anything as I doubt there will be any going back. But that's the beauty of it, some (good) years you can give back to the library and others you can just experiment and see how you do. With lots of members the risk is spread.

The list has lots of options to choose from and from this years I chose some that are relatively easy to grow without the risk of cross pollination. I picked:-

Scotland Yellow Tomato
Bijskij Zelty Tomato
Black coco Dwarf French Bean
Fat Baby Achocha
Bronze arrow lettuce (lucky dip extra)
Sutton's Harbinger Pea
Blue Prussian Pea

In the packs of peas there is only about 8 to 10 seeds so they need to be sown in pots, protected from everything!

I'm especially looking forward to growing Blue Prussian Pea as it's in an American book I own called "Heirloom Vegetable Gardening" by William Woys Weaver.

He describes the pea as "as a excellent split pea" But gives further advice on the storage of dried peas, "like any dry pea should never be kept more than a year. An insightful article called "Why Peas Boil Hard" appeared in the gardener's magazine (April 1831, 249) and explained that if peas are stored too long, they will cook "hard," never really softening no matter how long they are boiled. This observation is as true now as it was then, with one further footnote: peas stored for two or three years have also lost significant portion of their nutritional value. This is why it's important to date all stocks of dry peas and beans."

Really interesting I'm sure you'll agree, but I should imagine that the fact we can now store them in airtight containers and in vacuums would seriously increase their shelf life.

One years soup peas collected from a handful of peas - These are called Latvian Soup Peas or the "Grey Pea" 
So I'll try to build a stock of seeds from the 8 I have. Might take a couple of years, or the efforts of a mouse could wipe it out before I begin! Peas are easy to build up numbers though so I'm hopeful.

Anyone experimented with how long you can keep soup and dried peas for before they stay hard even when cooked?

Who else is in the Heritage Seed Library and what have you ordered for next years growing season?


  1. I absolutely love seeds. I save and buy and ask for, all the time, it’s so much fun to see the rewards at the end.

    1. I love their potential! So much fun to plan out a whole growing year as well, a few more to buy yet though for me!

  2. Interesting bit of info on the longevity of dried bean and pea storage. I thought this was something you could store for years. No sense in keeping them for longer periods if the nutritional value is depleted. Guess I need more research on food storage. Thanks for the tip.

    1. This is the only time I've read this about them going hard but it's worth thinking about. I'd like to do some research on it as well, I wonder how the fact we can now store in jars affects it, as I imagine being exposed to the air would make a massive difference.

  3. Like Theresa, I'm thankful for this tip.

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  5. Thank you for the keeping of peas. I love my heritage seeds, that challenge my normal grow the same variety year after year. This year I have ,
    Dwarf French Bean-Hutterite Soup
    Climbing French Bean-Cherokee Trail of Tears
    Cauliflower- English Winter Leamington
    Carrot-Scarlet Horn
    + lucky dip Swede-Kelper Gigantic
    Now to find out as much as possible about their needs. I have a new allotment, so will likely sow some at home as well.

    1. Great! Sounds like a awesome list. I messed up with the carrots here last year, I had saved loads that I sorted through but then this year saw so much wild carrot that I thought there was no chance of them being pure! Such a shame as it would have been great for the seed swap I help with. Brassicas are a no go for me either as we're surrounded by rape. I'd love to make up so cages and use fruit flies maybe this next growing season, see if I can keep things pure that way. I have some great books and peopel I can ask for advice so if you don't find the answers you need giev me a shout and maybe we could help each other! Learning about seeds is just about one of my favourite subjects!


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