July 31, 2010

Harvesting Peas, etc

My sugar snap peas have been beautiful this year, the best ever. I planted them early this year for the first time - my veggie garden just happened to be ready early this year. Timing: weather cooperating and husband/son cooperating. The compost piles were screened and piled for me to distribute. We had manure ready. And then a beautiful day. So I tilled, planned my gardening layout, and planted lettuce, spinach, kale, greens, radishes, carrots, and onions. I say early for me, but really not early according to the books. Those things are cooler tolerant plants. Then a visiting friend said my climate is good for those veggies - cuz, if you haven't noticed, we're in the middle of summer, and in most places these veggies would be fried. But then my timing between frosts is typically 90 days. And that's why I can't grow some HOT weather veggies - it's why most of my tomatoes are in walls-of-water, and I might get a couple peppers before frost.

Monte decided to help me freeze the peas by picking them. I froze 3 lbs. Sugar snap peas give you pea choices: eat them like snow peas, in the pods, or let them get large and shell the fresh peas. I thought I'd shell these, so I'd left them. Monte said, "No. Let's have them for stir frying over winter." AND I really don't like shelling peas. I like to do it for an occasional meal, but not for doing a bunch for freezing.

Either boil or steam blanch for 3 minutes 1lb of peas at a time (I didn't wash them or anything, just removed blossom ends).

Cool quickly by either very cold water (which our mountain tap water is - I often need a bit of warm water running too if I'm washing much, like lots of spinach, cuz our water freezes my hands!) or an ice water bath.

Drain and pat dry on a towel.

Distribute on a tray and freeze.

When frozen solid, pack in a freezer bag.

These frozen do not retain their crisp texture. They could be removed from the freezer, cut in bite-size pieces, and added to a salad a few minutes before serving. We typically use them in stir-fry: slightly sauteing veggies.

Now for the rest of the story ... Monte often hates to get rid of good stuff. Just like my baby veggie starts from the greenhouse. He made new planting spots for extra kale, broccoli, etc this year that I had so much extra of (I always have extra and he just happened to be around this year helping). I tried to tell him the price of seeds - like 30 plants - is the price of buying a 6-pack of the veggie at the nursery. So we can throw them in the compost. I know, it is hard even for me. Some years I've frozen 30+lbs of broccoli, and I get tired of kale! So we had this leftover water we'd boiled the peas in ...

Monte loved the taste of this water and wouldn't let me throw it out. It's in a large jar in the refrigerator. When Dawson came home from his mountain bike ride, Monte told him to try the "Pea tea"! The next morning Monte tried it cold saying it would be better sweetened, thus, "sweet pea tea"!!!! ;-P

Our table grapes in the greenhouse are almost ripe. This year there's probably a hundred clusters! - some hanging down at head level and Monte ties up higher, since I'm often busy doing my textile art dyeing in there. I called them table grapes differentiating them from wine grapes. I used to trim them back hard like you have to if you want a lot of wine grapes. This process did not give us grapes, so I had to research. Now I don't trim them, but for cutting back the too long ends wanting to take over the greenhouse. I just bang down the dead leaves in January or February.

Raspberries are now producing. Tho I've now planted raspberries, everbearing ... and we'll see how they do. The raspberries we've got are wild. But they're growing in two of my flowerbeds. They are my oldest flower beds and Monte had brought dirt up from the woods by some springs (that's why we called our road Singing Springs Lane). The raspberries came from that dirt. They try and take over the beds. I do pull out a bunch periodically and last year I cut them all back in the spring. I thought our wild variety were everbearing. But no. We didn't get any raspberries that year. Everbearing bear on current year branches and bear throughout the growing season off and on. Others on older canes. I don't mind them mixed in with the flowers. My gardening style is 'cottage' and I've got veggies and fruit co-mingled with perennials.
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