Sweet Peas

June 28, 2010

The first peas are ready

The problem is finding them

Of course, when I say ready, I mean that some of them are ready, but not enough for an actual meal. The first pick produced a small handful of pods which, when shelled, produced around a mouthful of petits pois, not quite round yet. Not really worth cooking, so I decided to try eating them raw, as I’d heard that some people like them that way.

Um. Wow.

I knew peas were sweet, but only that they were sweet the way sweetcorn is sweet, or roast parsnips: vegetably sweet, as in not actively bitter. I popped the first tiny pea into my mouth and bit down and was rewarded with a burst of pure sugar. Why did nobody tell me this as a child? I thought, although of course everyone had and I just assumed it was part of the great adult conspiracy to get me to eat vile vegetables by hook or by crook (see also avocado). We sat on the step and just ate them there and then – I was going to say as a healthy snack, but it felt about as healthy as crunching up sugarlumps. If really fresh peas were actually available in the shops they’d have to have one of those traffic light warnings on them. They’re basically all sugar.

Now I know most of you will be nodding and/or rolling your eyes and saying yeah, everyone knows peas are sweet, talk about the bleeding obvious, but hey, I came late to the world of vegetables and it occurred to me that maybe I’m not alone. So if you have never actually eaten a freshly picked and barely ready pea straight from the vine, do it, because those little green pellets you’ve got in your freezer are nothing like the real thing.  And do it quick before the children find out about them and grab them all.

O Frabjous Day

March 19, 2010

Calloo callay – my purple sprouting broccoli are sprouting. Actually, make that my purple sprouting broccoli is sprouting, because only one is, the rest are just, apparently, purple broccoli. It seems a rather meagre recompense for all the time spent planting, replanting, caterpillar picking and anxiously brushing snow off them all winter, but maybe the rest will catch up. We’ll see.

Apart from that, it’s all go in the vegetable patch as I’m desperately trying to keep up with the accelerated spring. The onion sets are in, I’ve chitted and planted more parsnips, my potatoes are chitting, my peas have germinated and the first eight broad bean seedlings are even now settling in under my proper grown up cloche. I’m starting off pretty much everything in pots which means some careful scheduling of the kitchen windowsill, the only spot in the house both warm and light enough to guarantee germination. I think I can get everything started in time, but it’s going to be a close run thing. Remind me, when I’m luxuriating in my freshly picked, delicious home grown vegetables, just how much work goes into them before there’s any reward.

It’s fashionable these days to want to be in the moment, savouring the here and now and not worrying about the future. But whoever it was who said ‘live your life as though each day was your last’ probably didn’t get much gardening done. But then, they probably also never spent a whole year anxiously nurturing a bed of broccoli plants in exchange for a single sprouting spear.

Garden Update

June 13, 2009

… because I know you’re all just desperate to know how my garden is doing. (You are, aren’t you? Just wait, I’ll take up decorating next, and keep you posted on how the moisture levels in the paint are decreasing).


Broad Bean Pod

Anyway, we harvested our first potatoes last night. This was less to do with whether the potatoes were ready and more to do with a slight catering crisis – it turns out that having four people in the house instead of two means we get through bags of potatoes faster. So anyway – three and a half potatoes, yay! They were – well, convention dictates that I tell you that these were the most delicious potatoes I have ever eaten, at least since the last first crop of freshly dug home-grown potatoes I ate. And they probably were but, you know, when all is said and done, a potato is a potato is a potato.

Replanted Broccoli. There is some in there, honest

Replanted Broccoli. There is some in there, honest

Meanwhile, the broad beans are showing the first tiny pods, the replacement broccoli seedlings are in, the parsnips are given up for dead, the peas are climbing like crazy but not flowering yet, and I have one – count ‘em – surviving leek. I’m thinking of growing it to mammoth proportions and entering it into the village show as I can’t really think of any other real use for a single leek.


Peas and Beans

But far more interestingly* than all that, I have started a spreadsheet! There have been a lot of excited articles in the newspapers recently about how you can beat the credit crunch by growing your own vegetables. I’m sceptical on this one. My experience of growing your own vegetables is that you get fresh and delicious** vegetables and (when they survive) they’re fun to grow, and it’s good exercise and you control what chemicals go into them, if any, and it’s a very minor way of cutting your food miles, but I’ve never really seen it as a way to save money. After all, by definition you’ll be eating them when they are in season and hence pretty cheap in the shops. And any casual glance at a catalogue or a garden centre shows that there’s an infinite amount of stuff you can spend money on. I’m a pretty tight, sorry frugal, gardener but I’ve already spent around (oh all right then, exactly) £31.40 on seeds, compost, and getting my round in at the slug pub. Meanwhile, 120g of freshly dug new potatoes (retailing at £2.99 a kg in Tescos) has saved me precisely 36p.It’s early days, of course. But I’ll be interested to see if I break even on the plot this year. And even though you won’t be, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

*adjusted for being about gardening. And spreadsheets

**adjusted for being vegetables

If my Life were a Reality TV Show…

April 10, 2009

…the narrator today would have been intoning:

‘Day 22 of Seedling Watch, and up at the vegetable patch there’s still no sign of any life…’


‘…Or is there?’

bean_sprout pea_sprout

Yup, shortly after I really did give them up for dead, my peas and beans have started germinating. So in a fit of more mad optimism I’ve planted my broccoli and gem squash*. The jury is still out on the parsnips though – while there are signs of something coming up, I can’t remember what parsnip seedlings look like so I’m not convinced it’s them and there’s not enough of them yet to make it obvious.

And it’s not just my seeds that are showing signs of life…

horse chestnut
Horse Chestnut in leaf

*I know you all have zero interest in these details, but I can’t be arsed to keep a proper garden notebook so this will have to do.


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