Pea varieties planted this year: Lincoln and Wando
How did they do?: More peas than I've ever had, but I think I planted them too close together. The heat and humidity of a hot spring resulted in a bad case of powdery mildew. Wando was a little more resistant than Lincoln because of its tall growth habit and the plants produced about a zillion pods, but the pods themselves were small.
I feel like I have been shelling peas forever, and now that the peas are done and I have no more peas to shell, I feel a little (forgive me) shell-shocked, and am wandering a little, the way you used to when finals were done and you suddenly had no more homework. Remember that? I always spent at least a week shuffling around, thinking I was supposed to be doing something only I couldn't remember what it was, and at night I would dream that I had only just discovered that I was taking Calculus for Really Brilliant People the day before the final exam and would be earning an F. Thank goodness that homeschooling has finally done away with those kind of dreams for me; actually, I still sometimes dream that I am taking a class (usually math) for which I have done none of the homework (or worse, that I am having to go through all of high school again), but then (in the dream) I also usually realize that I am a homeschooler and walk out. You can not imagine how utterly empowering this is, even if it is only a dream. Also, it is really scary that school can exert its hold on you until you're almost 40, but at least I know how to wriggle out of it now.
Anyway, I'm not having dreams about shelling peas, but then shelling peas is not calculus either. We only got about 7-9 quarts, give or take, which isn't a huge amount of peas but I felt like I was shelling them all the time. I'd do a little here and then the toddler would wander away from my carefully set up pea-shelling station -- bowl of peas, bowl for shelled peas, bag for the pods, camp chair in view of the swing set -- and head for the front of the house, and I'd have to go retrieve him. Our entire yard is fenced in beautiful white vinyl horse fences, which work pretty well for horses, and not at all for anything smaller, like, say, a 23 month old. Or I'd settle in at the kitchen table to shell more peas there, and then the toddler would start crying and the four year old would say, "He bumped his head," and what that really meant was that he bumped his head on the four year old's teeth when the four year old bent over to bite him for playing with the train tracks. I tried to contract the pea-shelling to outside labor, but I didn't have many takers... although George did a good job and earned some money on Saturday... which he then spent Saturday afternoon on Yu-Gi-Oh cards. I'm starting to have my doubts about the cost-effectiveness of growing peas, even if they are organic.
So I did finally get all the peas shelled, but it took me so long that I worry about the quality of the frozen product. Probably I needed a Mr. Pea Sheller (other than George), although at $37 I think these peas are getting more expensive by the minute, especially when you figure in all the Yu-Gi-Oh cards necessary to get a bushel of peas picked.
Beet variety planted this year: Touchstone Gold
How did it do?: A lot better than I expected, considering I never thinned them!
I was unsure about when to pull the beets, since I have never had much luck with them in the past. Then greens started to wilt, so I pulled them all. Now I am trying to figure out ways to cook beets that don't remind me of chilly fall days. I roasted a pan of them last Friday night. They didn't look like this when they came out of the oven -- they had nicely crispy skins -- but I thought they were so pretty waiting to go into the oven that I had to take a picture. I like golden beets more than red beets because they're so much sweeter and they don't bleed all over everything.
Blackberries and Boysenberries
We grow Southern varieties, but more than that I couldn't tell you. What I can tell you is that the thornless varieties are not as big or productive as the thorned varieties, which replicates the experience we had in New York.
I took this picture about two weeks ago, at dusk using Instagram. I like playing around with Instagram, but I wonder if anybody's looking at my pictures and thinking, All she does is take pictures of vegetables. And her breakfast. Also, I think that the mark of Instagram on a photo is pretty obvious, so you can look at a picture on a blog and tell immediately, Oh, that's been Instagrammed. Still -- fun to play with.
So this is part of our berry patch. Although we have plenty of room for the blackberries and boysenberries to sprawl, it's hard to mow around a sprawling, thorny thicket of berries... and especially the boysenberries, which tend to be low-growing. (If you've never had a boysenberry, think wild blackberry -- smaller and sweeter than the big, domesticated blackberries.)
|Another Instagram photo|
|Yet another Instagram photo|
To partially solve the mowing problem, Andy decided to grow the bushes vertically. We found a Mother Earth News article online (although I can't find it anymore) and copied the arrangement. We only have two wires strung between the posts right now, but eventually we'll need three. Since I took this picture, though, the canes have all put on an enormous amount of growth and are outrunning our ability to keep them tidily contained.
The boysenberries have proven to be extremely cost-effective and ripen earlier than the blackberries, so we are having a nicely staggered harvest. It's hard to estimate quantities because Chipmunk and Leo treat the berry bushes as their own personal snack bar, but I think we've gotten at least 9 and possibly 10 quarts out of the combined boysenberry and blackberry bushes so far -- mostly boysenberries. Considering that you can't buy boysenberries in the store and I think that a half pint of organic blackberries will run you at least $3.99 (maybe more, I haven't checked), these bushes have more than paid for themselves already. We've eaten fresh every single berry we've picked, without even so much as a speck of whipped cream. I suspect we will need much bigger bushes before we get to have a real berry dessert.
|Not an Instagram photo.|
The biggest surprise of this year's garden is the plum tree we planted last spring. This year it bore a crop of tiny, very sweet red plums, so small I could hold five in one hand. Maybe we should have plucked them off before they had a chance to develop; I'm not sure about plums. But they were so unexpected a pleasure that I'm glad we didn't notice them until they were full and red and ripe. And I think I finally understand the William Carlos Williams' poem, "This is Just to Say":
"I have eaten
You read that poem in high school, didn't you, and wondered what the big deal was? Go read it again, but I will tell you, you won't understand it unless you have eaten a perfectly ripe plum off your own tree.
I know, because I didn't either.
they were delicious
and so cold"
How is your garden growing?