Friday, January 14, 2011

Give Peas a Chance

Here's the harvest from the experimental patch of Caseload Shelling Peas planted way back in mid-September, last fall. They have soldiered through wintry winds, pounding rains, and freezing nights, made the most of some unseasonable warmth lately, and bravely put forth these plump, albeit bedraggled pods.

According to The Natural Gardening Company, source of the seeds, these peas grow to two and a half feet in height and don't need staking. That has not been my experience! These babies are pushing five feet and the stakes are getting higher, so to speak.

The experiment last fall was to see whether my gathered seeds, more adapted to this yard, would perform better than the leftover seeds in the original packet from Natural Gardening. At first it looked like the gathered seeds were doing better; but now it's hard to see much difference between the two rows, and the small differences could be accounted for by more sunlight falling on the row in front. Nonetheless, I count the experiment a great success because it has resulted in a harvest.

My previous efforts to grow many different varieties of peas have been routinely unsuccessful. Mostly, they never came up at all or got chomped as soon as the first tender shoots appeared. I kept planting them anyway because it's so easy and fun to poke the pretty little green baubles into the ground and because they are a marvelous plant at all stages.

The small harvest of Caseload Shelling Peas last August was a breakthrough. And here we have a second one! So now I'm really hooked.

This January harvest yielded a scant half cup and some of the peas were scarred with traces of frost burn. But who's complaining? It was enough to build a dinner on.

Admittedly, the peas are mere tokens in this serving of Peas Alfredo, kind of like the stone in stone soup. But the meal was delicious. Maybe it's not the peas I'm so fond of but the noodles in cream sauce that the peas are an excuse for making! Anyway, it's time to start thinking about the next crop. Should it be this tried and true, field-tested variety or something new and different?

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