Risser Sickle Pea
Bountiful sickle-shaped peas grow on tall vines covered in snowy-white flowers. Eat the snappy young pods, or shell them for tasty peas when more mature and plump. The Sickle Pea was one of 17 pea varieties mentioned in 1789 in England by John Abercrombie and Thomas Mawe, though it was listed specifically as one of four that were "cultivated chiefly for curiosity". It must have been selected for flavor over the last 230 years, as it is now very tasty. In his recently republished book Heirloom Vegetable Gardening, William Woys Weaver says it was grown by English and German speaking communities in Pennsylvania in colonial times, and that it was most recently preserved by Pennsylvania Dutch gardener Ida Shriner Risser. In 1985, this variety was taken in by the Landis Valley Heirloom Seed Project in Pennsylvania. We received our seed from William Woys Weaver who preserves thousands of heirloom varieties at Roughwood Seed Collection.
Days to maturity: 65
Seeds per pack: 50
Planting / harvesting notes
Seed directly in the ground as soon as the soil can be worked in the early Spring. Sow about an inch apart in rows on either side of a trellis, or in bands of 2-3 feet, with the trellis in the middle. Keep soil constantly moist until germination. No need to thin.
Seed keeping notes
Peas are self-pollinating, though it is best to isolate different varieties of P. sativum by at least 25 feet (we do 75 feet to be sure) to avoid unwanted cross-pollination from flying insects. For seed saving, harvest the peas when their shells have become dried and crispy. Lay out the pods in a dry, sunny place to dry down further. Shell the peas and lay out the seeds in a well ventilated place away from direct sunlight for at least another few days to a week before storing for next year.