The Q&A Archives: What Are Austrian Peas?

Question: A magazine article about growing tomatoes recommended planting Austrian peas on the garden's perimeter would attract Lady Bugs and thereby do a number on aphids and other pests. I'd like to plant the peas -- if for nothing else than as an experiment -- but I don't know what Austrian peas are. I expect there are other varieties that would do the job if in fact Austrian peas can do the job. Thanx for whatever help you may offer.
By the way, the magazine article was in Country Living, August 1999, pgs 38 and 40. The reference to Austrian peas is on page 40.

Answer: According to Pennington Seeds, Pisum sativum subsp. arvense or Austrian winter peas are normally grown as a large scale plow down cover crop for soil enrichment or as a forage crop for animals such as livestock and deer rather than as a home garden or food crop. It is a typcial legume and will fix free nitrogen from the soil and is grown as a cool season crop in the southeastern US.

I have not been able to verify that these particular peas serve well as "aphid bait" in the garden, although it would not surprise me; it is true that any garden pea (also Pisum varieties) may attract aphids and as a result of a heavy infestation the lady bugs and other beneficials will naturally appear and control them. Peas are generally a cool season crop, though, and tomatoes a warm season one so the interative effect could be minimal.

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