Tag Archives: sugar snap peas

Time to Eat

In the past week or two the sheer volume and scope of food rising out of the earth has exploded. One can literally make a meal standing in the middle of the garden, picking, and eating.

Lots of what is ready in my garden never makes it into the house (the strawberries especially), but I did manage to get enough basil into my basket to makethe first batch of pesto of the season on Monday, tossing some into some cappelini and fresh sugar snap peas and freezing the rest. On Wednesday I harvested kale, cilantro, more sugar snaps, and mushrooms for a stir-fry with ginger and tofu. I have also picked six pints of strawberries this week; two went into the freezer for ice cream I’m planning to make for a special party the week after next, and the rest will go into some jam.

The mulberries are starting to come in, too, and a lot of folks have been picking them off the trees that hang heavy over the streets in my neighborhood and making pies. I picked about three cups today during my long morning walk with Caleb, and when I got home I decided I wanted to try making some scones. I modified a recipe I found for oatmeal scones, adding a touch of orange extract and using the mulberries instead of currants, and here is the result. In a few minutes I will  take a few of these next door to my neighbors.

The sugar snaps are copious and remarkably sweet this year. I love them in the pasta and stir fry, but I also love them fresh and crunchy, right off the vine.  That’s the experience I had in mind when I took a platter of them to a little farewell gathering this week for a friend who is moving away. I mounded some hummus in the middle of them, tossed on some kalamata olives and feta cheese, drizzled it all with olive oil, and sprinkled salt. Here’s what the platter looked like.

Enjoy this lovely day! I’m going to pick more sugar snaps.

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Spring Garden Omnibus

Winter has finally given up on us, it would seem. The garden is coming out from hiding and has lots of news to share. Here’s an omnibus of what’s been happening lately.

The sugar snap peas are up. The thinnings were delicious in a stir-fry with broccoli, carrots, tofu, and a spicy peanut sauce with cilantro and chives.

I moved my seedlings indoors and away from the rat who has taken up residence in the potting shed, and I started over for the third time. Here’s hoping.

It’s been a grand winter for broccoli. I’ve begun taking out last fall’s plants and today planted new ones. The cilantro also wintered over magnificently, and I’ve been reaping the rewards almost daily.

Another overwintered showoff — the salad greens. Spectacular.

The strawberries I planted last spring are looking strong, and today I noticed the first two blossoms. Last year I pinched off every bloom in order to have stronger plants in the long run. I’m not good at delayed garden gratification, but good-n-plenty strawberries are worth it.

The Swiss chard I planted a few months ago is doing well. You can see the carrots right behind it that went in about the same time.

Other recent developments: Last weekend I seeded more chard, beets, radishes, and arugula directly into the ground. Today I put out some kale seedlings I bought from the Oakhurst Community Garden plant sale. And in the next few days (just as soon as I purchase some bean inoculant), I’m going to plant a new-to-me heirloom shelling bean variety I’m excited about: Indian woman yellow, it’s called.

Most thrilling of all, last weekend and this weekend, I buried seventeen asparagus crowns. I’m planning to devote a whole post soon to asparagus (I know — geek!), so I’ll save my thunder for now.

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A Paean for the Pea

I try to heed the wisdom in not wishing one’s life away, but I confess my chilled bones are giving a little leap of joy at the prospect of January finally ending this weekend. February should bring a little stir of activity — my seed orders have arrived, and I’ve begun to clean out the potting shed and make room for flats on top of the warming mats and beneath the grow lights. Soon they’ll be chock full o’ Swiss chard, salad greens, kale, arugula, and cilantro. For starters.

Sugar snap peas, a cool season joy

And in keeping with my grandmother’s no-fail practice, a ritual I have adopted as my own for the past sixteen years, I will plant four rows of peas — sugar snap peas, to be precise — on Valentine’s Day.

Indulge me for a moment whilst I lift my voice in praise of the pea. There is so much about it that is gratifying. The pea is eager to please — the sugar snap, in particular. Peas aren’t picky about soil; they like a generally balanced pH and whatever you may happen to have put in their bed in the way of compost a few months before. And in fact, peas themselves are fertilizer.  After harvest, if you turn the spent vines back into the soil, they happily bestow a bit of nitrogen for future crops. This is what we are delighted to call “green manure.”

You can plant them in a spot that is shady in the summer, because right now, all the leaves are off the trees and the sun fills your prospective pea patch. Pea seeds are relatively large, so if you spill some in planting, they are easy to recover. They sprout quickly and consistently. As you know, dear readers, I have had many problems with squirrels consuming my crops, but the peas they don’t seem to care about. If you want to be extra-sure, though, a layer of human hair clippings over your rows seems to keep them unmolested.

My friend Daphne julienned fresh, raw sugar snaps from my garden last year . . .

You can start eating almost within a couple of weeks after planting. How is that, you ask? You have planted your pea seeds an inch apart, and now you need to thin the seedlings. Who knew those pea sprouts were so delicious? I love them in a stir-fry with lots of other veggies and some tofu. Eager to please, those peas!

The only real TLC your peas require are some good trellises to hang onto as they grow. I use my tomato cages folded out flat. They work well because by the time the peas are done, the tomato plants are ready for caging. You might want to watch the weeds, but a good layer of mulch (I just use newspaper and leaves) will keep that from being an issue.

This is when the peas really start to show you some love. Lest you think Valentine’s Day is just too darn early to plant a spring crop, I remind you, Southern Urban Homesteaders, to trust the pea. It knows what it’s doing. A cold snap? Worry not. The peas love a good freeze. It seems to invigorate them. March winds and April showers? The thriving pea does a happy little pea-dance. Pests? None that I have ever encountered. Disease? Nope.

. . . which she then put into cous cous along with some garden mint, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. We ate it with our fish and salad. Amazing.

And then the best part. One mid-spring day, tiny little pea blossoms turn into tiny little pea babies, and then a week or so later, you’ll find yourself standing in the midst of your pea-patch, plucking a plump sugar snap and taking a crisp bite, hull and all. The sweetness! The crunch! You think you want to eat them all right then and there, but they grow so abundantly, you have plenty to bring inside for even more stir-fries. Or you might steam a few and drench them in butter. Or saute in a little garlic, or maybe ginger. And still they will be sweet, crunchy, pleasing little peas.

All we are saying is . . .

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