Mary's Veggie Garden

July 16, 2013

Shelling Peas Compared: Green Arrow, Thomas Laxton, Little Marvel

Filed under: Peas,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 4:02 pm
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I’m a lazy gardener – or perhaps I’m a lazy cook. The less work there is between the garden and the plate, the better I like the vegetable. Thus, snap peas are a favorite – pluck, string, and eat. Snow peas are a close second – they need only a couple of minutes cooking. I never grow shelling peas – who wants to spend afternoons shelling them when snap peas are so much easier?

This left me with a problem: I needed some pictures and experience growing shelling peas so I can talk intelligently about them in my vegetable gardening class. My plan was to grow a small quantity of one variety. I ended up with seed for three varieties and enough peas to freeze.

Green Arrow – here is the description from the Park’s catalog:

70 days. You’ll enjoy big harvests from these vigorous 24- to 28-inch plants. Every pod — about 4 inches long and fresh, bright green — is stuffed with up to 11 delicious peas!

Thomas Laxton – this description is from the Burpee catalog:

HEIRLOOM. The vines are big and productive. Thomas Laxton is considered the greatest pea breeder ever, and this century-old variety is his masterpiece… Pods contain 8 peas and often up to 10; vines at 3′ are easy to trellis…55 Days.

Little Marvel – this description is from the Gurney’s catalog:

A favorite for over 60 years! Space-saving semi-dwarf sets huge yields of 3-in. pods with 6-9 large, sweet peas. Good for freezing. 62 DAYS.


I planted all three varieties on April 15 in full sun along the south perimeter fence of my garden at Vassar Farm. Spring weather was ideal for growing peas – very cool with no hot days until mid-June.  Rain was plentiful from mid-May through June and I watered when rain was lacking.

L-R Green Arrow, Thomas Laxton, Little Marvel

L-R Green Arrow, Thomas Laxton, Little Marvel on 6/29, 9 weeks after planting – around the start of harvest

The seed for both Green Arrow and Thomas Laxton was dated last year, 2012. Although germination was good, it was not 100%. As a result the picture shows a few gaps in my row. BTW most of the Green Arrow planting is out of view on the left side of the picture. The Little Marvel seed was new and germination was close to 100%.

Height: Green Arrow and Little Marvel plants are about the same height: 2-2.5′ tall. The Thomas Laxton plants are 6′ tall,  double their advertised height and taller than me.


Variety Catalog days to maturity Days to maturity in my garden
Green Arrow 70 73
Thomas Laxton 55 63
Little Marvel 62 63

I took the next two pictures 6/27/13, at the start of the Green Arrow harvest and during the peak of harvest for the other two varieties.

L-R Green Arrow, Thomas Laxton and Little Marvel

L-R Green Arrow, Thomas Laxton and Little Marvel

Peas in a Pod (L-R) Green Arrow, Thomas Laxton and Little Marvel

Peas in a Pod (L-R) Green Arrow, Thomas Laxton and Little Marvel

Green Arrow has a 4″ pod as advertised, but most pods contain 7-9 peas, not 11. The pod is bigger in diameter than the peas, so the peas are full-sized and ready to harvest before their shape shows in the pod. The peas can rattle around in the pod.

Thomas Laxton is quite variable, with some pods almost 4″. Most TL pods contain 7 or 8 peas.

Little Marvel pods are 3″ and contain 4-5 peas, not the 6-9  mentioned by the catalog. The peas seem to go from tiny to stretching the pod overnight.


After I took these pictures my husband and I performed a taste test on the raw peas. We rated them independently but got the same results.

Our favorite was Green Arrow with its sweet pea taste.Thomas Laxton is equally sweet but has a bit of sharpness in the flavor. We rated Little Marvel third. It is somewhat starchy at full size. The taste of Little Marvel is best when the peas are undersized however you get almost nothing from a pod of undersized GA peas.


Because I planted different quantities of each  variety I cannot compare the yield. I didn’t even try – I picked them all into the same bag.

Green Arrow is a late pea, maturing about 10 days after the others.  I was able to harvest  most of the pods over a very short time span so GA would be good for freezing. Thomas Laxton was the opposite – setting pods over a long period, with not as many ready at any one time. Little Marvel fell in the middle.

Thomas Laxton on the vine 7/2/13

Thomas Laxton peas on the vine 7/2/13

Will I grow shelling peas again? Probably not; I still do not enjoy shelling them. But at least I had a good audio book to listen to while shelling.


1 Comment »

  1. Very well documented, one of these days some of your skills will rub off on me,

    Comment by Norma Chang — July 16, 2013 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

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