The peas are here – quick, eat them before summer rolls in. This year, I am growing Seed Savers Exchange’s Amish snap. We prefer the snap peas — my son especially likes to pop the sweet, crunchy pods into his mouth, spit out the remaining stem into the garden, and exclaim, “See Mom, they are biodegradable!” I too prefer to eat the entire pod raw while the rest of my family likes them cooked with chicken and pak choi (cut into ribbons). Also this year, I am experimenting with a nylon trellis system on the rail that leads to the front door. Although there are plenty of strings for the tendrils to hold on to, periodically, I gently directed the three pronged tendrils to the nearest string for them to sense something nearby to which they should attach. Now that they are full grown, the four-foot high plants decorate the walk up to the front door with small white flowers and luminous green pods.
Last year, I made it a point to get the seeds in the ground by mid-March to have as long a harvest as possible. I thought the soil temperature was the required 45 degrees but after I planted the seeds, it snowed. Nothing much came up and I learned that planting seeds in cold soil tend to rot more or don’t germinate as well as planting seedlings, which can survive the cold soil much better than seeds. This year, it snowed so often in March I didn’t plant until the beginning of April. Instead of planting the pea seeds directly in the ground,I first soaked the pea seeds in water overnight. The next morning, I placed several seeds in damp paper coffee filters and then covered in a plastic bag. They germinated within 2 days! I also planted some of the seeds in small containers of soil, and they too germinated quickly. After a few days, I had many small seedlings, which I planted at the base of the trellis system.
Now, at the end of May and beginning of June, I can snip off a bowl full of peas for us to eat at dinner. I pick the “middle-aged” ones: not too young and flat; not too old and starchy; but just right, just thick enough to “crunch.” My kids take it for granted that they can eat fresh peas from the garden but I know that getting that kind of goodness is a gift to be savored during the ephemeral spring days.