Talk Dirt to Me

Peas Please

The first fruit I harvest each year is usually some sort of edible-pod pea. Lettuce, spinach, chard, and radishes come in earlier, but those are vegetables. Snow peas and sugar snap peas have real star-power in our food. Snow-peas stir fried with rice, onions, eggs, garlic scapes and some rooster-sauce is some damned fine eating. Two low-net-contribution members of our household don’t like this dish. They like their food to be distinguishable single items (a pea, a french fry, a banana) or an indistinguishable mush (re-fried beans, peanut butter, blended tomato sauce) not a colorful mix.

They do love snow peas when eaten raw. I caught myself about to warn the youngest lay-about not to eat just snow peas for dinner. We were having black bean mush. Why the hell shouldn’t he eat fresh crunchy, protein-rich snow peas? And why shouldn’t I. I’ve started taking them to work as a snack. They’re filling and I’m sure the crunching keeps away co-workers.

This year my pea trellis is weighed down by heavy plants and enormous peas. A year ago the few peas I grew were eaten in the garden. The winged beggars that plague my yard, terrorizing the chickens and teasing the cats, ate all the seedlings. By covering the plants in a little remay-hoop house for the first few weeks I warded off these little brown vultures this year.

But sadly pea time is coming to an end. Peas don’t like this foul, hot, wet weather any more than they liked the fowl parasites. Even though the plants still look vigorous and are covered with fruits, there are no more flowers. No more flowers means no more peas.

The peas have been shading a bunch of lettuce seedlings, but these are now established and in a few weeks will be ready to eat. With the peas no longer bearing, it’s time to put them on the ice-floe and send them out to sea. In this particular case that will mean cutting them off at the soil and throwing them in the compost. They just can’t make it in this heat.

But now I have to harvest hundreds of peas. Despite my love for peas, I don’t think we’ll be able to eat that many fresh, so I’m going to have to freeze them. I always blanch my vegetables before freezing because the enzymes that will turn them to mush are still active, though at a very low rate, in the freezer. By heating up the vegetables some of the enzymes will denature and hopefully the peas will taste more fresh. That way when I torture the boarders with peas, eggs and rice in January at least I’ll enjoy it.

© 2014 The Valley Advocate