100 Degrees! Stop! Pea-Pod Time!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fresh Peas from the Spring Garden
In the words of the great MC Hammer, "U Can't Touch This." Well -- actually -- that's a lie because you can. And -- in all honesty folks -- I stole this. Not from MC Hammer either. I stole it from my neighbor, Patrick. He and his wife Jillian just recently celebrated the onset of parenthood with the birth of their first (and hopefully not last) baby girl.

Patrick and his wife aren't just great neighbors, they are also Facebook friends. And I was more amused to see one of his most recent post-birth Facebook posts state the following: "3:25 AM! Stop! Baby Time!" I suppose many young parents, and older parents, might recognize what is taking place next door. Needless to say, both new mom and dad are looking a little more tired than usual these days.

Pea Vines Heavy with Pea Pods
Hopefully new baby girl will learn to sleep more than an hour or two at a time at night. At least that's my hope for you good neighbors. As for me? I'm still quite limited in my garden endeavors thanks to this damn boot on my right leg. But I'm not totally useless. As I reminded the wife that is Venus -- I can sit at a kitchen table and shell pea pods to my heart's content. This is provided she goes out in the verboten garden area to harvest said pea pods.

And what a harvest it was!

Unfortunately -- we didn't get the seeds into the ground at the proper time. That normally happens in the fall -- around mid October. Emerging shoots will grow to a certain height before freezing weather moves in, shutting down the growth process. But beneath the freeze and underneath that soil line? The already established root system keeps right on growing. So when spring finally arrives? The pea shoots that were stunted by winter growth suddenly explode and flower like nobody's business.

Tall Telephone and Mister Big Pea Pods
Unfortunately, right about the time that I should have been planting peas, I was stuck in a hospital room instead, fighting off a nasty case of pneumonia. Pneumonia is no laughing matter. The heart won't work if you can't breathe -- and breathing was indeed a problem that month. It sort of set us behind. While the planting of said pea crop finally did take place -- it took place in early spring.

Despite the late planting, the crop wasn't half bad. The wife that is Venus and I are partial to two different types of pea seed (there are many). Mister Big Pea and Tall Telephone Pea tend to produce the largest pea pods, and the largest of peas. Like most crops, there is just no comparison to home-grown peas and the fake, frozen peas that are sold in the local grocery store. Home-grown peas are meaty, sweet, crunchy and offer a meal not to be missed. Peas purchased frozen in a bag are, well, "meh."

Fresh Peas and Pea Pods Good for Stir Fry Meals!
Both varieties are also somewhat resistant to the slugs and snails that regularly patrol the raised bed gardening areas. And -- try as they might -- the plants can resist marauding cats who like to dig them up. I have plenty of experience with marauding cats -- and slugs and snails -- unfortunately.

While the onset of 100 degree days is great for all thing heirloom tomatoes, garden-grown peppers, crunchy home-grown slicing cucumbers, squash, corn and the like -- it's killer-diller on fresh peas from the garden. Peas is strictly spring. Once the weather warms like it has -- those tender vines that yielded that sweet and tasty crunch of pea-dom are history. Those vines are but a distant memory now. But there's still a heaping-helping of fresh peas that are chilling in the freezer.

A Garden Feast
Those leftovers will be put to good use later this summer when the wife that is Venus and I get around to one of my favorite canning projects: Home Grown Veg-All. If you think Bill Bird has finally gone off the deep end for using the words "excitement" and "Veg-All" in the same sentence, my challenge to you my friend is "try it before you buy it."

For there's nothing like breaking into a Ball Canning jar brimming with spring and summer vegetable produce in the dead of winter. The smell of that year's garden is right there -- a reminder that even in the coldest of days -- spring and summer is just around the corner.

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