|Carol Stein grows it
Sweet peas, garden peas, green peas. Whatever you call them, they’re the only legumes that prefer cold
Green peas can be started from seed in the garden or
containers between early January and the first week of March, when soil
temperatures are still about 40 degrees.
Emerging vines don’t require extra protection during cold snaps. Tthe
peas will be ready to harvest about two months after germination.
Look for seed packets labeled Wando, Green Arrow or
Freezonian (that name hints at how cold-hardy green peas are). Sow seeds in loose soil rich in
organic matter with a neutral pH (6.7 to 7.0) . Top with a thin layer of
compost or leaf mold. Follow package directions for seed depth and water
Pea vines need support, so borrow trellises from your flower
garden. Or, plant peas near sunny fences or walls where you can attach four- to
five-foot lengths of twine for the pea tendrils to climb vertically.
I’ve grown peas in large containers (20- to 24-inches wide)
with several skinny bamboo stakes placed to form a teepee about four feet
high. If you can’t find skinny
stakes, use whatever stakes you have, and weave a web of twine around them for
the tendrils to grab. Use fresh potting soil, and plant about a dozen seeds per
In the garden, allow two or three inches between plants.
Pretty pea flowers add lavender, white or baby pink splashes
of color in dismal winter gardens prior to producing the pods.
Plant peas as early as possible. If the pods haven’t matured enough to pick and shell before
the weather heats up, you risk losing the essence of this sweet winter garden
Debbie Moose cooks it
Tender green peas, fresh from the garden, are a spring
delight. Like fresh asparagus, they are at their best for a short time as the
weather warms, in March, April and May.
After that small window, peas turn into the rock-hard
ingredient in many cafeteria-line abominations.
Those who have experienced peas only as chunky bits in
casseroles and mushy soups don’t know the joy of spring garden peas. As a kid,
I looked forward to them each year in my father’s garden, where we picked them
when the peas inside the pods were tiny jewels.
Look for peas with fat, unblemished pods. The pods should be
bright green and the peas inside, crunchy and sweet. Cook them as soon as
possible after picking, because the starches in peas begin turning to sugar
very fast. If you must refrigerate them, do so for no more than two or three
days and leave them in the pods. Shell them just before using.
If you purchase shelled peas at a farmers market, use them
Fresh garden peas are great simmered simply with some spring
onions, small new potatoes and a little butter. Don’t overcook peas - they
should retain a little bite, but be tender.
This recipe is a triple-pea threat of crispy green goodness.
It comes from “Simply in Season” by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert
(Herald Press, 2005), which is full of easy seasonal dishes.
Three Pea Stir-Fry
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups snow peas, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh green peas
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Salt to taste
HEAT the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
Add the garlic, ginger and dried red pepper. Stir and fry until fragrant, about
ADD the sugar snap peas and snow peas. Stir-fry until
crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and stir-fry until hot, about 2
REMOVE the pan from the heat. Stir in the soy sauce and
sesame oil. Taste, then add salt if needed. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings
From “Simply in Season” by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen
Hockman-Wert (Herald Press, 2005)
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