If you want an heirloom pea, try growing Little Marvel peas. What are Little Marvel peas? This variety has been around since 1908 and provided gardeners with generations of sweet, vigorous peas. Little Marvel pea plants are a shelling variety with big yields but small plants, perfect for small gardens.
What are Little Marvel Peas?
Small space gardeners rejoice. There is a semi-dwarf pea plant that produces copious peas on diminutive plants. If you thought there was no way you could grow your own shelling peas, Little Marvel pea plants will prove you wrong. Best of all, the peas stay sweet and tender even when fully ripe.
The variety of pea ‘Little Marvel’ is a compact plant that will produce a lot of tasty peas. Little Marvel garden pea was introduced in the early 1900s by Sutton and Sons of Reading, England. It is a cross of ‘Chelsea Gem’ and ‘Sutton’s A-1.’
This hardy plant grows 30 inches (76 cm.) tall and produces 3-inch (7.6 cm.) long pods. The pea Little Marvel does not need staking and grows in USDA zones 3 to 9. Start them as soon as the ground is workable and you will be enjoying peas in 60 days.
Growing Little Marvel Peas
Little Marvel Garden pea should be planted in well drained, sandy loam with a pH of 5.5 to 6.7. Start seed 6 to 8 weeks before your expected last date of frost. Plant seeds 1.5 inches (3.8 cm.) deep and 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 cm.) apart in full sun. Expect germination in 7 to 10 days or quicker if you soak seed in water for 24 hours prior to planting.
Peas don’t love to be transplanted but can be started in a cold frame in cooler climates. Little Marvel is small enough and produces well in a container, too. You can also plant seeds in mid-summer for a fall crop, but don’t expect yields to be as high as plants started in spring.
Peas need average amounts of moisture but should not be allowed to dry out. They can get powdery mildew with overhead watering in warm weather, but drip irrigation can prevent this. If you prepared your soil with plenty of organic matter, the plants do not need fertilizing. In fact, peas actually improve soil by harvesting nitrogen and fixing it in the soil.
Harvest peas when the pods are plump. With many peas, you need to be on the harvest frequently to get the best pods before they are too old. Little Marvel holds better on the plant so harvest time isn’t as crucial. Expect bowls full of sugary sweet peas.