Glimpse into the lives of snow peas and those who tend them for you
Son Micah and I planted our snow peas months ago in the corner of a field where squash grew last year. We lay down the seed in double rows, which we stake about every 10 feet. A white mesh is strung the length of each row for the snow peas to climb. There are 6 early rows of peas, 3 more later ones just beginning to flower their tiny, delicate white petals. In early spring, all these empty “fences” look as if we’re setting up some strange and voluminous midget volleyball tournament. The rows run about the length of a football field, and it takes weeks before the peas reach up to the net, fan out their lovely green leaves and wind their way toward the sky. It’s better not to look at that distant row’s end when picking peas alone. Better to focus on the peas and their steady plunking into 5-gallon buckets. Dela and I went Sunday to this field. We first started weeding beets around noon. After a few hours, though, it began to pour down rain on us. We drove the mile back to our farmstead to see if it would let up and change clothes. I put on boots and a raincoat. I went back to weeding beets almost immediately. Weekends are my only time to help us catch up on some things. Weeds are putting a lot of pressure on us now. When Dela rejoined me, we turned to picking peas. We picked until dark, about 1/5 of the 100 lbs needed to give each household ¾ of a lb. I rose at dawn Monday and went back to pick peas. We weed as we harvest if time permits, or we take breaks from harvesting to stretch different muscles with long hoes and hand garden tools. Rain came upon us mid-morning and stayed with us most of the day. From where I picked peas, I could see Dela and Trish now and then, rising from long rows of radishes they were picking and bundling. By day’s end, they looked like mud wrestling contestants. Our part-time workers and volunteers joined us Tuesday for another day of harvesting, weeding and mulching in, of course, rain. Ruth Banwell of Janesville, who’s subscribed with our farm for 14 of the past 16 years, was among them. What good friends so many subscribers have become over the years. When you make your salads this week, think of these hands that have planted, tended, harvested, weighed, bagged, delivered it to you. Weed, wine and cheese – We started this event just two seasons ago. It drew greatest participation in its first year from Chicago. Yet we’ve never had so many on-farm pickup subscribers. They may outnumber Chicagoans this time around, Saturday, June 26. Come work as long or as short a time as you like, 9 a.m. until late. Potluck with us at meal times. Enjoy Dela’s cream cheese and Trish’s ice cream from our goat milk. Bring a beverage of your choice. Experience the work and joy of garden and field. Get to know the plants, animals, people and place that are your farm. The boost you give us will pay off wonderfully when later in the season you see yield what you helped grow. Markets and such: I’ll be staying out late Wednesday nights, starting this week, working a new 4 to 9 p.m. farmers market in Oak Park, Ill. I’ll be selling our goat milk soap, birdhouse gourds, potted herb gardens and other great farmstead gifts for Father’s Day, birthdays and everyday use. I’ll also be taking part in a sale at Dominic’s Kitchen Store on Saturday, June 19, in Park Ridge, Ill. Such events and mail orders through the year contribute about 20 percent of our farm income. We need and appreciate your support in this way, too.
This Week’s Vegetables are:
- Lettuce mix
- Garlic Scapes (a cutting from the plant, which helps the bulb grow larger before harvest in July, chop it up and use it just like garlic cloves)
- Nasturtiums edible flowers
- Snow Peas
Cooking Tip for the Week
A good week for gourmet salads, you need not cook any of our produce this time around. Incorporate all of these vegetables into salads with your meals this week. If you want to cook, you may sauté garlic scapes, fennel stalks and snow peas in butter. Top this off with fresh fennel leaves. We put Dela’s cheese on homemade pizza this week and topped that with fennel and basil. Nasturtiums taste great with Dela’s goat cheese, too.