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Jungle of peas

The pea jungle.

The garlic had just sprouted when I planted one row each of snow peas (Sugar Pod Two) and peas (Laxton’s Progress) in the same 1′ wide vegetable bed in early May. I planted a second row of each type of pea as an afterthought, a feeble attempt at succession planting, two weeks later.

The packets indicated they would grow to a height of 1.5′ to 2′. I made a 2′ support for them to climb. I covered them with a net to protect them from the rascally squirrel. I watched excitedly as they grew. And climbed the support. And grew taller. And twisted their tentacles around anything they could. And grew even taller.

Pea harvest

Peas are pure summer joy: green, crisp, sweet. I prepare them simply: sauteed with some butter, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and tossed with some mint.

Snow pea harvest

Delicious prepared simply, we also explored other preparations. My favourite was inspired by the spicy potato filling recipe in Duguid and Alford's Mangoes and Curry Leaves cookbook: sauteed in ghee, seasoned with mustard seed, curry leaves, turmeric, garlic, onion and a touch of cayenne. Served with roasted new potatoes. Perfect!

The snow peas, the peas and the net became one big, green, interwoven, pea-producing mass. It was a jungle out there! Picking was a challenge. Try finding all the peas hiding in the dense rows and mess of vines. And there was still garlic back there!

Two weeks ago, the garlic looked ready to harvest—the lower leaves had turned brown and were dying and with all the rain, I didn’t want to risk having the bulbs rot—and the pea plants were starting to wither. I pulled everything out. Now the same bed will become home to fall-harvest kale.

Despite the less ideal growing conditions—and my after-the-fact discovery that peas and garlic don’t mix according to companion planting guides—the plants produced well. I guesstimate I harvested about 1.5 kg of snow peas and 750 g of shelled peas. Even though it’s the early season pea shoots that are recommended to eat, we snipped the tenderest tops of the plants we pulled and sauteed them. A tasty dinner green.

Lessons Learned Growing Peas

  • Plant them somewhere else (where they can grow taller and are accessible from both sides)!
  • Disregard the packet information and build a taller support.
  • Forget succession planting with peas. Plant them all at once. There’s no shortage of pea recipes, otherwise freeze some.
  • Explore companion planting.
  • Harvest pea shoots early in the season or plant them for that purpose. Then we can have more. They’re delicious! (And what a great idea to plant some in winter too.)
  • Try planting a second crop mid- /end of August.
Homegrown garlic

The wire shelf from my mother-in-law turned out to be perfect for curing the garlic. I brushed them, trimmed the stems and roots, then kept them in the shade on the porch for two weeks.

I also harvested 12 heads of garlic. I learned they must be handled like eggs, to avoid bruises which would cause the bulbs to spoil. After two weeks of curing in a well-ventilated area, they’re ready to store today. Those 12 heads won’t last long in my house. I’ll still need to buy more, for eating and planting, at the Carp Garlic Festival on August 14/15. I’m satisfied though with the results of my first attempt at growing garlic.

Lessons Learned Growing Garlic

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