Lessons we can learn from a June day of weeding and picking snow peas
After 25 years working to establish a farm, I’m certain of two things. No one can master in a single lifetime all he or she needs to know to produce, market and finance crops and livestock. And nobody can sustain a farm very well alone. Mysteries and magic of the garden and of my longtime partner, helpmate and friend Dela, filled my thoughts this week as I worked my way down rows of snow peas – just one of the more than 60 crop varieties we grow each season. There’s quite a lot involved in establishing peas. They are one of the first seeds we put in the ground. I can recall several seasons tilling ground for snow peas and turning up frozen clumps of soil. We tried over a full month of cold, wet, muddy planting conditions this year to establish 20 rows of peas. We only got 14 in the ground. Rough weather kept halting our work. Yet 3 months later, I found myself working down a row of Oregon Giant snow peas, disentangling all sorts of weeds from the pea vines and harvesting beautiful peas into a 5-gallon bucket. In 40 feet of close-in weeding and plucking peas on my hands and knees, my bucket was full (about 10 lbs.). An hour had passed. Many more of the 100-foot rows needed this same attention. So many 16-inch weeds and grasses piled into the row that I could not see the switch grass mulch we laid in the path weeks ago to shade out weeds. The mulch actually deterred most of the weeds. If we neglect weeds that spring up around each pea vine, however, they can block airflow, spreading plant disease in moist conditions. They also starve peas of nutrients, sunlight, and moisture; and they hide the snow peas from even experienced harvesters. As I worked over the peas, I could not help recalling all the years we’ve grown peas here. I remember one morning harvesting peas in the rain in another part of this same field. Periodically, I’d watch Dela and our farm apprentice weeding squash next to me. We were all soaking wet. Some folks have come here and cared about our farm, the work and us as much as our family does. That apprentice was one of them. I recalled another year going into snow peas and finding a different legacy. Another farm apprentice had weeded the long pea rows and come away with hardly any peas. I could not see many pea vines trellised up onto the mesh. I found scores of the vines, though – some laden with peas – buried under the piles of weeds down the paths where this person had been working. It took me hours to rescue the trampled pea vines from the mass of weeds. I guess we go through a lifetime and never learn all we need to know to understand people, as well as plants and animals. This year’s peas are beginning to respond to the recent downpours. They like it cool and wet. We’ll keep them going as long as we can. We’ve heard back over the years from a number of parents who learned they could get their kids to start trying, eating, enjoying fresh vegetables with our snow peas. We’ll keep learning all we can, as well, to grow better and better crops for you. Thanks for helping maintain a community farm as a place to learn, a place we all can learn to serve and protect fertile soil.
This Week’s Vegetables include:
- Leaf lettuce mix
- Snow peas
- Asian greens
- Garlic scapes ( a cutting from the plant to help the bulbs grow bigger; use as you would fresh garlic)
- Gift of Dela’s cheese from our goat milk
- Garden Extra (everyone gets something different – broccoli, OR Red Iceberg Lettuce, OR cucumbers, OR Bok choi)
Cooking Tip for the Week –
June Pesto - from Orfordville subscriber and CSA share packing party volunteer Erica Jones
Dear Erica started out with husband Eric splitting a subscription with another couple. They gradually learned to love eating and cooking fresh, local produce. For several years now, they’ve bought two subscriptions from Scotch Hill, eating one and canning/preserving the other share. They also frequent farmers markets. Can’t get enough of a good thing! Erica shared this recipe over snacks (fresh vegetables, wine and Dela’s cream cheese, of course) following this week’s packing party at Scotch Hill. Take one half cup of toasted walnuts, ¼ c olive oil, ½ bag of chard (or any leafy green), ¾ bag of Asian Greens, 1 bunch of turnip tops or radish tops, 1 or 2 garlic scapes, ½ a 3-oz goat cheese, 1/8 cup parmesan, lemon juice to taste, salt and pepper to taste. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve on pasta. You can also add pickled vegetables OR fresh radishes or turnips. Serve hot or cold.