Peans & box blight

I noticed a reference to the dreaded “pean” in Get Growing a couple of weeks ago (Get Growing for the three people left in the country who don’t know, is the weekly email newsletter from Lynda Hallinan and Rachel Oldham).

A reader says how lovely they are and describes them as “a cross between a bean and a pea” which anyone who has been reading this website closely will know is a horticultural impossibility (here’s the link to my first post on pea-beans).

At the bottom of the Get Growing story is a link to Mapua Country Trading near Nelson which, it said, stocks pean seeds. I emailed MCT to let them know what I’d found out about “peans” and they were good enough to get back to me. Not only has Heather updated the information on her website, she’s linked to mine! Aren’t gardeners nice people?

I’ve been keeping an eye on the section of my little box hedge that succumbed to box blight – I chopped out the diseased bits and have been (regularly and then irregularly) feeding it with seaweed liquid fertiliser, plus it received a full box of cinnamon sprinkled all over it, after I read that cinnamon is a natural anti-fungal.

The plants are starting to shoot away again, here and there, and there has been no more blight, but that may be down to our lack of humidity this summer and maybe even lack of rain.

Fortunately, most of the blight was at the back of the hedge, which can’t be seen, and at the less visible end. Many people have given up on box altogether because of this blight.

Last word on pea-bean

Judy Horton, communications manager for Yates Australia and author of a monthly garden calendar on the website, has found a reference to the pea-bean in Growing Peas & Beans by Australian botanist David R Murray (Kangaroo Press, 1999).

She has kindly scanned the relevant text and sent a copy.

“The name ‘pea bean’ is just as unfortunate [as ‘sweet pea’]. Some people take the term literally and actually believe that such seeds represent a cross between a pea and a bean. For instance, Weaver (1997) proposes that a pea bean still sold as such in the USA is a ‘very old cross between the white marrow pea and the red cranberry pole bean’. Peas and beans are so different, however, that any attempted cross would not give viable offspring. All that the term is meant to impart is that a bean has taken on a rounder or globose shape, resembling that of a pea. Alternatively, it may refer to a pea with an unusual mottled seedcoat pattern, resembling that of some beans. To avoid confusion, it is a term best avoided.”

I don’t think we can naysay the findings of a botanist so our hunt for the pea-bean, while fun and with some interesting twists and turns, has been a wild goose chase.

Read the earlier posting here.