Friday, June 24, 2011

What's Growing: Garden Peas

Peas are one of my most favorite garden crops. Not only are fresh peas so superior to canned, or even frozen peas, but I love the flowers and even the chore of shelling them. Tim once offered to help me shell peas, and afterwards declared the crop "too much work for too little food". But I love peas.

All week I have sat in my office and had, in the back of my mind, lush rows of peas, full of flowers, the pods dangling within temptations reach. Of course I would always rather be outside than stuck in my office, but I just can't get enough of looking at my peas.

This year I am growing 6 different kinds of peas. I have Survivor, a low growing "leafless" variety which has many tendrils in place of leaves, Maestro, which matured earliest, Wando, which I saved from the last of a fall crop in 2007, some sugar snap peas, and both a tall and bush variety of blue podded peas. The flowers on these are wonderful, ranging from pink to blue to lavender and purple.

The pods are truly bright blue, but you will have to wait until they mature more to see some pictures.

Today's harvest of peas, mostly Maestro. They took almost half an hour to shell, and were reduced to ....

... a little over 3 cups of peas.

I love popping open the a perfect, even row of peas.

• Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a (pea) flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking. More specifically, they are a legume.
• The wild pea is restricted to the Mediterranean basin and the Near East. The earliest archaeological finds of peas come from Neolithic Syria, Turkey and Jordan. In Egypt, early finds date from ca. 4800–4400 BC in the Nile delta area, and from ca. 3800–3600 BC in Upper Egypt.
• In early times, peas were grown mostly for their dry seeds. In modern times, however, peas are usually boiled or steamed.
• The pea is only green when eaten because it is picked when still immature. A ripe pea is more yellow in color. Eating peas when they are green became fashionable in the 1600s and 1700s but was described by the French as "madness".
• Thomas Jefferson grew more than 30 cultivars of peas on his estate.
• Just one serving of garden peas contains as much vitamin C as two large apples, more fiber than a slice of whole grain bread and more thiamine than a pint of whole milk.
• Peas are said to give relief to ulcer pains in the stomach because they help 'use up' stomach acids.
• A 100-calorie serving of peas (three quarters of a cup) contains more protein than a whole egg or tablespoon of peanut butter.
• In the mid-19th century Austrian scientist Gregor Mendel observed the pea pod leading him to create his principle of Mendelian genetics, the foundation of modern genetics.

The garden is growing like mad, and the recent rains have caused an amazing growth spurt. Soon I will be eating summer squash, and the beans are beginning to flower. I even have some pretty good sized tomatoes and bell peppers.

Besides the vegetable garden, we spent last Saturday landscaping in one side of the chicken yard. Only the brick walk to the gate, and surrounding landscaping to go.

And Thursday night we brought in a lot of dirt and began hilling the potatoes. They were growing at an alarming rate and were at least a foot tall. And it's a good thing we got it done because since that evening, we have had almost 2 inches of rain. There has been some sun, but any picking and tending I've had to do has been in between the rain drops..


  1. This is a dream garden dear daughter! the growing season we have had is made for raised beds but the work you and Tim do is huge! Fun to see, I must get over and have a closer look!

  2. Thanks as always for sharing your gardening with us!!

    Has the cold frame been finished out, or is waiting until end of summer downtime?

  3. Are the peas self-supporting or do they need something to climb? My hubby has put chicken wire around one of the larger beds, so I can actually plant it out in spring, so was thinking I would throw some peas in, they look so pretty :)

  4. The amount of support needed for peas is directly proportional to the amount of space they get to take over. If you plant either a bush or "leafless" variety, they will be quite compact, and may not need support. If they are tall and do not have support, they will just vine on the ground. You can pick the windward side first, then roll the entire windrow over and pick the underside.
    My supports are too short for the tall blues and the sugar snaps. The sugar snaps got to about 7 feet high, then leaned south along the rows with 3 foot supports, and have now started growing straight up again at the 8 foot mark, continuing on undaunted. I simply pick up the mass with one had to pick the underside. The minor crimping of the stalk hasn't bothered them a bit.

  5. The cold frame is still on the back burner, although Tim mentioned it once. Right now, since I don't have anything that needs to grow in there, I'm using it to store pots and flats which ned washing, and tubs full of potting soil.
    We'll get back to it in the fall as I want to try growing lettuce in there. I am really enjoying our fresh lettuce this year.

  6. Your garden is just amazing!!! I can't wait to have the space to one day have a great big garden like that! I can't believe how BIG your peas are already! I planted my sweet peas about a month ago and they're only maybe 3" tall! lol

  7. I love peas and remember 'pinching' them from my grandfather's veg patch as a child!

    My peas are great for eating whole (like mangetout) or can be left to mature and then shelled.

    We've had really hot weather here in Yorkshire and, combined with a few downpours of rain, the peas, beans and rest of the veg are really coming along after a poor start. I'm having to tie-in the peas even more as they are growing so tall!

    Can't wait to gather the first harvest - it's always a magical time.