Peas: Get Your Garden On

Welcome to my new blog feature I like to call “Get Your Garden On.” Each week I’ll cover what’s happening in my vegetable garden.  This tiny little patch of Urban Eden may be small but it lives large and provides my household with plenty of fresh, delicious, seasonal fare most months out of the year.  I’ll also include my favorite recipes for the featured crop.  I figure – grow what you love…the meals will follow.

Plentiful peas

Plentiful peas

Legumes, Peas, Pods…whatever you want to call ‘em, I love them all!  This is peak pea season here in the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve got 3 varieties of peas cropping right now on a 6′ length of wire fencing:  ‘Petite Pois’ shelling peas (from transplants) ‘Cascadia’ sugar snap peas and ‘Blauschokkers’, a purple podded pea that is best for drying but I’m growing because it looks so cool!  I’m not a big fan of split pea soup, but I’ll dry my crop and spread the seed around among garden friends.  Let me know if you want some!

'Blauschokkers' purple peas

'Blauschokkers' purple peas

Not only do these peas look fabulous in the garden but I added a sprig of plump pods to a composition of fragrant ‘Matucana’ sweet peas and ‘Caradonna’ Salvia to what I think is a delightful effect.  Plus I just can’t get over how cool those lime green peas look tucked away in their regal purple pods.  How chic!

a june bouquet

a june bouquet

I have to admit, I haven’t grown shelling peas for several years.  The sugar snaps are delicious and you get so much more bang for your buck with the entire edible juicy pod.  But I’m so glad I was seduced by that tiny pot of pea starts at the farmers market way back in March when I was itching to plant something – anything!  I had completely forgotten what a sweet sugary morsel each little perfect pea is.

Recipe:

I must admit, I don’t cook my garden peas.  Truth be told, most often they don’t even make it indoors.  Instead I graze and munch as I weed, water and work the garden.  One of my favorite use for those sugar snap peas that do make it into the kitchen is to simply slice them up and toss with fresh salad greens, nasturtium blossoms and radishes adding lots of crunch and spice to lush young lettuces and herbs.  Not much of a recipe but none the less, a forumla for delicious, and healthful eating.

harvesting peas

harvesting peas

With the onset of warm weather, peas often succumb to ennation virus evidenced by a powdery white coating on their leaves that prevents the plants from taking in energy and quickly leads to their demise.  Simply clip the vines at soil level, leaving the roots in the ground to break down and disperse the nitrogen they’ve fixed over their growing season.  This essentially free fertilizer makes this season’s pea patch the perfect place for a heavy feeding crop to follow.  I plan on sowing this bed with Broccoli Raab this fall.  This hearty mustard family relative produces a spicy green for delicious stir fries, pasta sauces and sautees (but that’s a different entry.)

I’ll miss my peas once they’re gone – I might have to even go indoors for lunch.  So this week I’m potting up a pea trough; a densely sown mass of all my leftover pea seeds that I’ll harvest in a cut-and-come-again manner for their tender tips and delectable and also sweet, tendrils.  While not the same as the pods themselves, young pea vines are a lovely addition to the salad bowl or quickly sauteed in a little light oil.  Fresh out of your own garden you’ll get none of the stringy starchiness so often found in grocer’s goods – if you can even find this seasonal treat.  I got this tip from my new favorite vegetable book, (after my own that is)  Look for my review of Sarah Raven’s The Great Vegetable Plot in the coming weeks – it’s a must have for your garden library.

Next week – my garden’s full of beans!

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