Peas Glorious Peas!

According to my husband it is hotter and muggier up here than in Atlanta and Austin.  Lucky us.  It is so oppressive at the moment and it looks like it will last for several days more.  Averaging about 90-95F/32-35C with a heat index of about 105F/40C.  I only know of one person, a good friend of mine, who is really happy about this, the rest of us are miserable!

And the peas choose this time to be ready to harvest.  Timing is everything!  It takes me a few days as I only have one tray that works to freeze the peas so I do this in stages.  We did use some fresh for our risotto the other day.  So wonderful with fresh picked peas.  🙂

The steps are easy.  Pick, shell, freeze, vacuum seal.   Done!

Peas 1 2013 Peas 2 2013 Peas 3 2013 Peas 4 2013

And they are a really nice treat eating them frozen as well.  Especially on a hot day!

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And then the rains came…

It was a case of be careful of what you wish for.  I wanted rain.  Just enough to fill the rain barrel.  We only have one.  Mother Nature thought we had a 100.

The spring started off wonderfully.  Some days was like an English summer.  We had some rainy days then some wonderful gorgeous spring days.  Then it got dry very quickly.  The plants were doing well but the soil got so dusty!  The wind blew and you got dirt in your eyes.  Ugh.  So I wished for rain.

And it came!  It seems we were on the thunderstorm path with showers and bucketing rain.  When it wasn’t raining it was unbelievably muggy and humid.  Ick.

The benefactor of all this?  Our garden.  It is doing amazing.  So are the weeds but that’s another story.  🙂

I love our peas.  Once they start growing it’s my favourite snack as I walk by.  We’re almost to the point where I can start harvesting and freeze the peas for our risotto.

Garden progress 1 2013

I am debating whether or not to plant broccoli next year.  We don’t eat it much but on the flip side the flowers are so pretty.  Tiny little yellow flowers just pop in the garden of a ton of green.

Garden progress 3 2013

I plant kale because you can get a ton out of a very small space.  My husband calls it rabbit food.  🙂  It’s become a little family joke “You’re feeding Daddy rabbit food!” LOL  But he’s a good sport and if I come up with dishes that incorporate it he’ll eat it.  And because so much grows I get to give a nutritious food to the community kitchen.  We plant about a 4 x 2 foot spot and the number of meals we get is huge.

Garden progress 4 2013

I’m looking forward to harvesting the leeks.  We usually get 5 foot long leeks and I hope that happens this year.  We do all organic gardening.  Miracle Grow and other chemicals have nothing on us!  I brought one to the community kitchen last year and they looked confused for a couple of minutes when I tried to hand them a 5 foot leek.  Wish I had a camera.  🙂  But it’s a great place right round the corner from our house.  They do such good work and I really hope there comes a time when what we grow might go to waste because no one is hungry.

Garden progress 5 2013

Zucchini.  Here’s the thing.  I am a supertaster.  About 25% of the population has some level of this.  What that means is we don’t like mushy food, overcooked veg, or some veg like zucchini, squash, or Brussels sprouts.  These types of veg taste extremely bitter to supertasters.  I keep reading about descriptions of Brussels sprouts being nutty and sweet.  They are one of the most bitter things I’ve ever tasted.  Most veg that I can’t handle cooked I enjoy raw so something in the cooking process really changes things.  Except zucchini.  I can not handle that raw!  But here’s the thing.  I also have to be a good sport.  Each year we ask the kids what they want planted and our daughter chose zucchini.  I don’t want to discourage them in anyway when it comes to gardening or healthy eating so we planted a bunch and I’ve been pinning recipes for when they are ready.  I’m wondering how much cheese is needed to cover the taste!

Garden progress 6 2013

I can’t wait for harvest time for the peppers.  We love to make hot pepper jelly.  It is so good on cheddar cheese.  I think we have about 6 varieties and 35 plants total in the raised bed.  We’ll freeze more when it’s time.  They work really well in sauces and chili.

Garden progress 7 2013

We went a bit crazy with the tomatoes.  We planted about 50 plants of 4 varieties.  I can not wait for harvest!  I love picking them fresh and eating them as I go by just like the peas.  And oh the sauce we’ll make!  Yum.  We do pick a few and make fried green tomatoes.  Such a treat.

Garden progress 9 2013

Last year we did one potato tower and this year we did four.  So far they are doing well and once the pile of dirt dries out a bit I need to add more to the towers.  You only want 1/3 of the greens sticking out so you add as you go.  Of course we’ll have to now figure out a root cellar system because I plan on having a lot of potatoes and I don’t want them going to waste.  But there is nothing like a fresh harvested potato.

Garden progress 10 2013

My son has a neat program as school where they give out cabbages to plant in third grade.  He is getting such a kick out of watching it grow.  Can’t wait to see how big it gets.  🙂

Garden progess 2 2013

 

Finally warm enough to plant! But the wind…..

It seems like we live on sea cliffs this year with the wind we’ve had to contend with.  We’re an hour and a half from the ocean but not that you’d notice.   I enjoy a nice breeze but there are days when it’s strong and constant.  It doesn’t help us keep warm with the wind chill.  I had Saturday off but the wind chill kept me in.  I love gardening but not when I’m shivering and turning blue!  Sunday I had to work but it was gorgeous out even with the high winds.  So I was very excited when we got out early!  Time to plant!  🙂

I had to pin everything down as I worked so I wouldn’t be running round the garden catching things and I had to duck my head as the dirt swirled but it was wonderful to be outside and digging in the dirt.

Every year we try to rotate the crops in our raised beds so this year the broccoli and Brussel Sprouts will be near the door.

First planting 1 2013

It’s important to plant the seedlings properly so they thrive.  It can be a shock being transplanted.  Though these seedlings are in the hardy category it still makes sense to give them a great start.  I dig a hole big enough for the seedlings and put in organic plant food and fill the hole with water.

First planting 2 2013 First planting 3 2013

Place the plant in the hole and fill it up.  If the dirt is really dry water as you do this.  This will help the plants from going into shock.  Gently tamp down the dirt so the plant is in snugly.  Don’t compact too much though as you don’t want to destroy the ecosystem in the soil.

First planting 4 2013

Water thoroughly.  In this bed I also planted my son’s cabbage from school.  It’s a program for third graders to learn about gardening.  I think it’s a fabulous idea for kids.  In September kids can submit photos to win a contest.  🙂

First planting 5 2013

First planting 6 2013

I had time to plant the peas so I took advantage of the weather and got it done.  I love planting peas.  They are so amazing right off the vine and they are a great plant for the garden as they fix the nitrogen into the soil for the next crop.

First the seeds have to be inoculated.  Looks icky but it works.  I soak the seeds while I prep the bed.

First planting 7 2013

The seeds need to be planted in troughs as you want to gradually add dirt to the roots as the plants come up to keep them cool.  For a plant that has such delicate flowers they really love the cool weather.

First planting 8 2013

We moved over the “trellis” from last year.  They are getting a bit beat up so we may have to come up with a new plan next year.  We’ll see how they work this year.

First planting 9 2013

The seeds can be planted an inch apart down the row.  They can handle being planted close together.

First planting 10 2013

Water the seeds and cover with about an inch of soil and then water again.

First planting 11 2013

Then keep fingers crossed that the rabbits don’t get them.  We had a big problem with 3 rabbits last year.  Spent quite a bit of time chasing them off.  They ate a few plants so I had to plant new ones.  So far no issues this week but if they do then there is a product we get for organic gardening that has dried blood.  Gross but effective.  Certainly gets our dogs attention.

First Frost of the Season

Where we live it can get brutally hot and bitter cold.  One year we had a range of -30 F (-34 C) to 110 F (43 C)!  It was a bit much.  So for the gardens we have to expect anything and everything.  Last week we had our first frost of the season and it got chilly, down to 24 F (-4 C).  Which meant we had to protect our tender veg that was still going strong.  And right now that is nearly half our garden.

It was time to tuck a few raised beds in.  When you do this you want to use breathable fabric so the plants get air but the frost doesn’t settle on the leaves and veg.  When the sun starts to hit the plants remove the sheets and blankets.

The plants we tucked in were peas, beans, peppers, and celery.  As it was quite windy we had to use clamps and lots of rocks.

The next morning was a very pretty morning.

We actually still had a few blossoms on our strawberries but the plants are still small so we weren’t overly concerned.

I love how the frost settles on the plants in different patterns.  🙂

I was thrilled to see the peas did well.

We were pushing it a bit with the peppers but most of the plants came through.

And I was equally surprised the celery did ok!  Which is good because we have a lot of it and don’t want it to go to waste.

Alas the growing season is coming to an end.  Soon the frosts will be too frequent and the warm days will be behind us.  It’s been a wonderful summer for the food.