'Debut 149' is a very rare Swedish pea that stays sweet and tender even when seeds become oversized. It has a bush habit, but also benefits from staking. It's early and productive, and can even tolerate the full heat of summer for a while. We are very excited to be offering this seed for sale the first time in this country (at least as far as we can tell), and we're doing so in tribute to the woman who first introduced us to this fine pea and sent us our initial stock back in 2015: the late great Roxanne Joyce Reese Brown.
Roxanne was an artist, gardener, and seed saver from Foley, Minnesota. She was also a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, and friend. She sold her art at a booth at the Minnesota Renaissance Fair for 25 years. Those who loved her all knew that she had the greenest thumb around — in addition to vegetables, she had an enviable gladiolus collection — and she was an excellent cook as well.
We learned the sad news of Roxanne's passing in 2017 when her kind and generous husband Viren Brown sent us a large package of her seeds along with a letter expressing gratitude for our sharing in Roxanne's passion for gardening. Included were more 'Debut 149' peas.
Roxanne and I (Nate) first encountered each other on facebook in 2015 after she reached out looking to trade seeds. I sent her some squash and beans, and she sent us some peas, beans, and alliums (including a rare garlic and an even more rare potato onion). We corresponded occasionally, and she frequently commented on our posts. It was clear that 'Debut 149' was one of her absolute favorites, and she was excited for us to experience it for ourselves. We grew it that year, just our second farming in New Jersey, and enjoyed it. But we were focused on other crops and so it never entered our regular rotation.
Fast forward to a few years ago: our dear friend and colleague Clint Freund of Cultivating the Commons asked if I had any interesting peas he could grow out. He and partner Kass and family had just relocated from Wisconsin to Minnesota, so of course Roxanne's beloved 'Debut 149' pea popped back into my mind. I scrounged up the seeds Viren had sent us in 2017 and mailed almost all of them to Clint. He too enjoyed them, and in 2021 he grew a large enough crop for us to be able to offer them to all of you.
In going back through my email and facebook messenger conversations with Roxanne, I found three snippets about this pea worth quoting here:
First, on March 17th, 2015, after I asked her about it (she'd included it in a list of seeds she had for trade): "It's a bush pea that benefits from staking. Good sized pods, good yield, no problems with mildew here in Minnesota. Very rare and you won't find information on it." Then, on July 2nd, 2015, she emailed me the main photo you see here (the others are from the USDA), along with this brief message: "Please add to your notes this pea is sweet and not starchy even when slightly overripe. It's a great pea for the home gardener." And on July 21, 2015: "It's been in the 80s here with a lot of rain. The plants are strong and healthy right up to seed production and no powdery mildew."
Roxanne got this pea from the USDA collection, where it had been languishing in obscurity since it was donated by Swedish agriculturalists in 1953. It came from the Horticultural Research Station at Alnarp, outside the southern Swedish city of Malmö. Indeed, as Roxanne predicted, that's all we've been able to find out about its heritage.
The USDA has included it in some large-scale studies of their pea collection, and by comparing their findings we can say that it's much higher in potassium, calcium, and zinc than most of the other peas analyzed, and also that it can flower in as little as 34 days from planting, and reach maturity in as little as 69 days.
We're truly honored to be releasing this pea in Roxanne's memory and on her behalf. We're sure she'd get a real kick out of this.