I came home last March and saw this bag in the fridge. It hadn’t been touched in years. I was curious if they would still grow. I have yet to find a good variety that I like to grow. I sometimes think of Grandpa’s peas, but I worry that they might fail here like so many other plants I’ve grown. I test-sowed the seeds to make sure they would still be viable after 16 years in the refrigerator, and sure enough, a few days after placing them in a bag of wet paper towels, they popped out.
After preparing the seedbed, I sowed them using a technique that involved holding a waist-high PVC tube and flopping the seeds into the tube to limit bending over as I walked down the rows. A few days later, here they are. I cared for these plants as if they were the first plants I had ever planted years ago. I fertilised them, inter-planted them, and I even used our hoover to suck the leaf-footed bugs out of them.
I’m getting a little tired of plants right now because of the huge pea harvest. I have enough dried seed for next year’s continuation and perhaps a batch or two for the New Year. I’ve already begun clearing dead vines to make way for kale and other vegetables that will no doubt accompany the first meal of 2023. As I cleared the vines dotted with pods, I neglected to pick, and I noticed that a cowpea had broken through the ground and sprouted from the recent rains. And, I thought back to many years ago, when I discovered my first pea seedling, which grew the 50-foot seedlings I enjoyed so much this summer.
I doubt anyone has ever taken such a liking to cowpeas, and I know Grandpa had something special about them. These could have been the very same seeds that were in stock at the farm shop that day.
But, to me, these seeds are priceless. That is the power of saving seeds. This act transcends generations of grandparents and grandchildren. Saving seeds reminds us of who we are, who we were, and who we will become. One day, when my daughter Mulan is old enough to help me plant seeds, I will share this unforgettable story with her. And, I hope she will continue to grow these cowpeas even after I am gone. For our story to live on. And that’s the story of my peas!