Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Snow Pea Season

This week marked the beginning of snow pea season. Snow peas are the crop where I feel like I'm starting to get my money's worth from the garden. Snow peas are expensive, and there is nothing like them. My other success in the garden is the appearance of a large head of broccoli. It's the first time I've successfully grown a head of broccoli, either from seed or seedling (I started these in the basement on a whim). Of the two other plants that survived, small heads have emerged, with little to no sign they plan on enlarging. I'll cut them off in a day or two and have them with pasta.

Tonight we had a bounteous stir fry with the last of the spinach (a good-size bag that filled the wok), the broccoli, an early onion and the first of the snow peas. I like this variety, Sutton's Harbinger, which I see looking back at the catalog is not actually a snow pea. That explains why it starts swelling when the peas are not very long. I've been eating them at only about two inches long, when the pods are still tender. I would like to have regular peas, however, so in a week or two I'll let them fully develop.

I planted Green Arrow peas in what is now officially "the dead zone," a quarter of one bed where nothing will grow. I planted the peas twice, then tried edamame, and finally tried Hidatsa beans. Nothing sprouted there, despite a profusion of growth on the potato plants opposite and peas at the other end of the bed. I'm going to leave it for the summer, now.

I'm almost finished with the early garden. Next year I won't bother with arugula or fancy lettuces (my endive turned out more like romaine). My early garden will be lettuce, spinach, radishes and kale (which started nicely inside). I'll plant more onions so I can harvest some green, and garlic bulbs in the fall to have scapes and then bulbs.

In this middle season, I'd like to have planted more potatoes so I could be digging up baby reds along with the peas. I won't bother with beans other than green beans next year. It would be nice to have some Swiss chard coming in (I planted that later) with the potatoes and peas.

It seems like all summer, all we do is wait on tomatoes. They have their run of three full beds, and they're so unhappy with the wind and the rain. Still, they hang in there, although they sulk and whine and flop around, leaning on the cages.

The other wonderful thing I saw today was a real ladybug. Not the smelly orange ones that clog the windowsills and walls, but a bright red, black-spotted ladybug. I can't remember the last time I saw one, and there it was, sitting on a leaf of a pea plant. The Colorado beetles have disappeared after I sprayed some organic stuff on the plants, and now here is this beneficial insect. It's heartening!

The ads for strawberry picking have begun to appear in the paper. Friday I will go to Willenbring's in Cold Spring to pick a flat. It will be nice to have some local fruit with all this vegetable bounty. And then it will be the 4th of July, which means the parish festival and the Joe Burger stand. Which means, of course, summer is really here.

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