Spring Planting, Alaska Garden Peas (Pisum sativum)

Yesterday I planted heirloom Alaska Garden Peas around my Ditch Lilies and waited for rain last night. It is raining lightly on and off today, hallelujah New Mexico.

Alaska Garden peas are an heirloom from the 1800s, and a delicious dry pea for split pea soup.  Yep, I know split pea soup has gone out of fashion, wrongfully so!  I love mine made with a bit of fried bacon for flavor.  For my assorted kids, I started them on a little soup ladled over white rice, and got them all to eat it straight up.

Why bother?  Dried peas are phenomenally nutritious, and when fewer fresh greens are available in the winter, they are a power punch.  For example, one cup of cooked peas has 327% of your molybdenum needed.  Most Americans are short on Molybdenum, which is essential to make sulfide oxidase that detoxifies sulfides in your system.   If you react to sulfites, you are likely low on Molybdenum.

The 65% soluble fibers in dried peas create a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that binds bile and carries it out of the body.  Your liver uses cholesterol to make bile, but for the system to function properly, your digestive system needs enough soluble fiber to bind the bile and send it for excretion.  Once the bile is excreted, that signals the liver to take cholesterol from your blood stream to make more.  Give your body the nutrition it needs, and you won’t need pharmaceuticals as often. Alaska graden peas are a great vehicle to keep the bile moving.  This is also true of carrots… eat one a day to lower your cholesterol without pharmaceuticals.  Or eat any food that has soluble fiber each day.

Dried peas have diadzein, an isoflavone that acts like a weak estrogen and reduces risk of breast and prostate cancers.

The important minerals in dried peas include manganese (also in chocolate and why we crave it), copper, and phosphorus in substantial amounts.

My intent with Alaska garden peas is first to add nitrogen to the new hugelkultur bed, which ensures that there is sufficient nitrogen to begin the composting of undermaterials and to feed live plants on the top of the bed. This is an important function for the circular economy, and it produces food while doing so.

The day lilies are edible, and coexist easily this year with edible peas.  The pea leaves and shoots add another green that can be eaten raw or cooked.  Pea greens are tender when young and have a subtle pea flavor.  Alaska peas do not have a tender edible pod, too much fiber, although they taste fine if you chew them.  I never swallow the wad of fiber, it looks like a cat’s hairball… eeeuuuwww.  When young, they can be shelled for green peas, but are not as sweet as modern peas bred to be eaten fresh.  It is their destiny to make a wonderful split pea soup for cold winter days in the mountains.  Not to mention a jar full for planting next year.

If you are trying to add bulk calories to your diet, this is a powerfully nutritious one.  Only the market economy gives you bulk calories that are empty (or toxic); historically, bulk calories were nutritious.  If you have more than you can use for soup, grind some into flour to add to home baked bread.  Adds nutrition and protein.   Back in the day, pea flour was commonly added to bread, along other foods and was called horse bread or common bread.  I call it everything but the kitchen sink bread.  Only rich people ate white bread and they got gout.

I never alot space for Alaska peas, I tuck them in for their contribution to the garden as a whole, because in a circular economy, they support others.  Peas are inhibited by alliums, gladioli, fennel, and strawberries, so I don’t plant near them.  I haven’t seen dill lisyed, but fennel and dill are so closely related, I wouldn’t plant there either.

If you have root rot problems with peas, rotate Chinese mustard through (Brassica juncea), then try again the following year.

These will companion fine with daylilies, radishes, and carrots.

Dried peas are also used as a medicinal plant, the ground seeds can be made into a paste and used on skin to improve firmness and elasticity, and defends against enzymes that break down collagen and elastins.  An extract is even more potent for many conditions.  In any case, eating as a food is beneficial for your health.  Alaska garden pea has less sugar than modern varieties and is a complex carbohydrate that stabilizes blood sugar instead of spiking.



About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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