Reach for the sky!

on Friday, June 24, 2011

At least that's what it looks like is going on here!

After I worried and griped about how slow the peas were growing this spring, just sitting there at the same height (2"?) for soooo long, you can see here that they REALLY took off! Maybe it's hard to tell from these pictures, but here's the math (these things are taller than me, and I'm not reaching up to harvest peas!). The raised bed containing the peas is 12" tall, but I'd guess the soil filling the bed is probably only 8"-10" deep. The peas are climbing a trellis made of concrete reinforcement mesh - it's the same stuff many home gardeners use to make their tomato cages (as I have). Each square in the mesh is 6" square - so it's real easy to figure out how tall something is growing. In this case, there's 5' of mesh above soil level - and you can see some of those peas tendrils are easily a foot taller than the top of the mesh! Before long I might need a step ladder...

Speaking of peas, here's what's pickin' right now....three varieties, but you can use them interchangeably - you get a mix of peas, and they're great raw or only ever so slightly cooked (if using in soups, just drop them in a couple minutes before it's time to serve up). The first two peas in the picture below are both snow peas, and then the third is a sugar snap. Notice the difference in pod shape/thickness - snow peas are always flat, and sugar snaps look nice and plump. You never want to let these "edible pod" types of peas get too developed, or they get starchy, lose their sweetness, and the plant will stop producing. Basically the plant wants to get seeds out there for reproduction, and we keep picking off the seeds before they're full developed (and and we EAT them)... so the plant keeps making more while it still has the energy.

I hadn't planned on growing snow peas this year because I find they're not as flavorful, but then I came across the green variety on the left, called "Snow Sweet", which was advertised to be the sweetest snow pea ever. Yeah, I don't know about you, but I'm not finding these guys to be very sweet. The plant is interesting though - it's not even two feet tall, is only just starting to produce, and the leaves are the DARKEST green I've ever seen for a pea plant!

The next one over is "Golden Snow Pea", and caught me at a weak moment - I thought it'd be fun for the CSA members to get a yellow snow pea. Gotta say - it's really starting to get prolific, but the flavor's only mediocre.

But perhaps I'm not being fair to the snow peas because the sugar snaps just taste SO much better. That third one in the picture is called "Sugar Anne", and that's the 6+' vines you see in the pictures above. I was really skeptical - another sugar snap variety that was producing earlier (but hasn't gotten more than 3' tall) was really cranking out the peas while "Sugar Anne" just kept getting taller and taller. I knew it was supposed to get tall, but thought maybe we'd see some peas sooner. Suddenly, WHAMMO, now it's cranking out the peas, and I have to pick every couple days! Sugar snaps definitely have a more crisp texture and sweeter taste....while I think snow peas are more attractive than flavorful. What are your thoughts?

And speaking of plants that are producing...I told Mary I'd have to take a picture of the first pepper in my garden to send with you. I was in the garden trying to take a picture that looked good, but the lighting wasn't working with me. Only after I took several pictures did I realize I was seeing not ONE pepper, but several! Sure, they're not big yet....but there's at least three peppers that've formed. (Yes, there's still so few that it's fun to count them....that'll change real soon!) ;-) So if you click on the following picture to view the full-size, you should be able to find at least three peppers and some blooms. I've got onions interplanted with the peppers, so that's what the other things are in the pictures.

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