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May 21, 2017
In the Pea Patch
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The Farmer and the Farmer's daughter have a pea patch together. One of the best treasures of the early summer lies within a crisp, green pod: the sweet pea. One of the most satisfying vegetables to grow, this became a perfect project her to try out her gardening skills. In February she seeded her own tray of peas, and watched with excitement when they sprouted and began to grow. Together, father and daughter transplanted the babies into straight rows, mulched them with straw and strung the first few rows of string. Most peas are climbers. Their tiny prehensile tendrils seek and find the string as if by some hidden perception. As the plants grow in stature, additional strings are added, encouraging them to reach to the sky, so that later their juicy green pods are easy to pluck. Peas thrive in cool weather and in our zone this means they are short-lived. The most perfect patch can be thwarted by a week of hot, dry weather. When temperatures rise, the peas get fat and bitter - a disappointing trick of nature for the young farmer. This year's patch looks marvelous. If all goes well we will be picking peas for more hours than you can imagine. All you have to do is open that CSA box and yum them up!
Tips on growing your own peas: it is late to plant peas, but still a fun project with kids. Purchase sugar snap peas for the quickest and most child-gratifying experience. Soak the seeds overnight for a jumpstart in germination. Simply fill a glass half full with water and add pea seed. In the morning, strain off the water and you are ready to plant. Peas are as happy in a large container as they are in the soil, so if you lack garden space, a pot will work nicely. Fill with potting soil and have your child poke holes about 1 inch deep all around the surface. You can squeeze a lot of peas in one pot, so don't be shy. Drop eat seeds into the holes, cover and water gently once or twice a day. Once they are sprouted they will appreciate a stick or pole to climb up, but are happy to sprawl all over the ground too. Once the white blossoms appear you won't have long to wait for the delight of the first sweet and crunchy pod to appear. The wonderful thing about the sugar snap pea is that they can be eaten pod and all, no shelling necessary. Even if you only reap a handful, the experience is magical - even for the Farmer and his daughter!