Monday, July 6, 2015

Minding Your Peas (and Cukes)

At the farm, there has been a fair amount of time spent recently with our pea plants.  We planted the peas, we've weeded the peas, we've trellised the peas.... we've RE trellised the peas...  we've RE weeded the peas

and now we are harvesting the peas.  I guess you could say we are...

Giving Peas a Chance
Young peas at the right, carrots at the left (mid May)
 Peas are one of those crops that farms like ours don't often focus on.  We, of course, can't help it since there are so many possible puns to be had if you grow peas.  But,the reality is that peas do not typically provide high yields per row foot, but they do represent a fairly high cost in terms of labor during harvest.  If you're a small farm with limited resources, peas might not be worth the chance.  In our case, we like the bridge peas give us in late June and early July to the green beans.  But, the overlap between the two can certainly test one's picking patience.

This year, we managed to get the peas in the ground on April 30.  The soil worked up nicely and the four inch soil temperature was in the mid-50's.  We focus on pod peas (snap and snow) and no longer grow peas that you shell.  The return on shelling peas was so low that we couldn't justify trying them any more.

Peas de Resistance
Trying to get a jump on trellising
 All of our work having to do with peas is focused around the harvest.  I suppose, you could say this is true for all of our crops if you work at it.  But, we trellis our peas primarily to make the harvest easier and reduce our harvest time.  If we didn't trellis them, we could still get peas and the plants wouldn't suffer too much.  But, if you've ever tried to harvest peas that weren't trellised well, you might be tempted to write a book about...

War and Peas
 And, in fact, there is a book about just that by Michael Foreman

We've also had some issues with wind blowing some of the vines off of the trellising.

Two rows of peas with nowhere to go?
When the vines fall off or otherwise evade our trellis efforts, you could say we have an issue with...

Our current trellising technique is still being refined.  We start with cattle panels at the ends of our 200 foot rows.  This provides and anchor for the Hortnova fencing that runs the rest of the length of the row.  It also provides a barrier against the deer that occasionally like to taste our peas.  So, you could say that the cattle panels provide us with some...

Peas of Mind
Mammoth Melting Peas
We have found that the taller vining plants, such as the Mammoth Melting Pea actually prefers the cattle panels to the Hortnova fencing.  As a result, we may actually focus on the panels for them next season and see how that works.

Blizzard, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care as long as it is trellised.  But, if the hortnova fencing is too loose and rolls over on itself it causes problems.  If you can't quite see how this might be an issue, we'd like you to....

Visualize Whirled Peas

These Blizzard pea plants want you to know that they do not endorse Rob's puns.
 In any event, we've had a cooler June and July, which is great weather for peas.  We're bringing in a nice harvest, with 138 pounds brought in thus far.  Our record season for peas was 2012 when we harvested 160 pounds of these yummy pods.  So far, we are on a pace to easily eclipse the record.  Which means we can talk a bit about...

Peas and Prosperity

Oregon Sugar Pod II - consistently reliable.
Our baseline for pea production is about 50 pounds for 100 row feet of peas.  That's what we expect if everything goes well.  And, most seasons, something goes wrong.  For example, in 2013, the Mammoth Melting seeds were not pure, so the peas they produced were not snow peas and did NOT taste good.  On the other hand, Oregon Sugar Pod II has been pretty consistent at 57 to 65 pounds per 100 feet.  The big issue with them are the...

Inner Peas
Well, we had gone so long without a pun, I had to get one in there.  Here's the deal.  Oregon Sugar Pod II is the most heat tolerant, shortest vine standard snow pea we grow.  But, unlike Blizzard, it likes to hold many of its peas inside the leaf canopy, which makes it a bit more difficult to harvest.

Spend time amongst the peas and you get to enjoy their flowers.

But, when you actually find that pod sitting deep in the vines, you get tempted to yell...

I Gotta Pea
If you are not in our CSA, then you might not have been pointed to this song by Brent Odom.  Yes, yes, we know that this type of song is typical of a ten year old's sense of humor.  Therefore, it makes sense that Rob is posting it.

This reminds me of a person I met some time ago at a park.  She liked to sing the alphabet song while shelling peas.  She also had a small tank where she raised minnows for fishing.  Since her name was Ella, she taught us to sing the alphabet song this way.  ABCDEFGHIJK... 
Ella Minnow Pea
I suppose many of you are in some amount of pain by now, so I will get back to talking about our peas. 

Golden Sweet Peas - easier to pick and great taste.
 Golden Sweet Peas like the cooler weather and very much prefer to be trellised well.  In prior years, we haven't given them the full attention they deserved but they have a great taste raw or cooked.  The yellow-green color makes the peas stand out from the vines and make it easier to pick.  But, many people aren't sure if the peas are good because the pale color looks a bit anemic. 

Peas Believe Me
Golden Sweet Peas are very tasty.  Rob does not typically eat raw veggies in the field, but he'll make an exception for these.  In fact, he'll eat any one of these types of snow pea raw or cooked and can tell you that each has their own taste.  The Blizzard and Golden Sweet Peas have the most tender pods of the batch.  Blizzard can be very sweet tasting and Golden Sweet is in between Blizzard and a standard snow pea (Oregon Sugar Pod) for taste.  Mammoth Melting is fine raw but even better in stir fries or steamed since it has a pod that can be a bit tougher.

The great news about this is that CSA members will be getting peas this week in their CSA shares.  If you aren't a CSA member, you might be able to find our peas at Hansen's Outlet or Guppies on the Go (in Tripoli) for the next few days.  Go!  Go forth and get those peas.  Then you can go home, find some leftovers - just a little of this and that - to have...

A Peas Meal.
You are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:53 PM

    Walt says that writing this blog must have been a peas of cake. ☺


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