Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First Harvest / Herb Update

Ah, my peas...I've never been so enthused about peas in my life. Last year I planted a few, and had moderate success. By which I mean, they were absolutely delicious, but I never had enough to make a full serving of them. This year, I went all out. After Miss Chef built me an 8-foot tall trellis, I ran out and planted over 20 seeds, to ensure maximum harvest.

And they're growing. I've already posted a few shots of them climbing up the trellis. But they don't let you really see the number of flat little pods that seem to appear overnight. Each evening after work, I circle the garden, checking on their progress. I keep tabs on the rainfall, ready to water the plants if things get too dry.

The other afternoon I noticed you can see the tiny little pea profiles inside their pods, when the sun hits them from the back:

(There's one right in the center of the pic--you might have to biggerize it to really see it.)

Monday evening I couldn't resist; I plucked a pod and popped it open. The tiny green peas were just what I'd been hoping for--tender and sweet, almost creamy in texture.

As a child, I had shelled plenty of fresh peas out of our garden, but I never noticed, appreciated or cared about their surprising sweetness. I grew up surrounded by the freshest of produce, and had no idea how lucky I was! Well, now I understand, and I still have time to make up for it! For the next little while, I'm going to be a pea geek.

Tonight I decided there were probably enough plump pods to pick myself a small serving. I carefully--and excitedly--crouched my way around the trellis, pinching pods to test their size. I think Rosie thought I had gone insane; she's probably getting jealous of all the attention those stupid green plants are getting!

It didn't take very long, and I ended up with a small handful, which I trotted straight inside for shelling. Of course, that left me with an even smaller handful!

I remained undaunted...this is about half of what my entire harvest was last year, and this is just the beginning of this year's harvest (I hope!). I decided to add them to a bit of leftover salad from today's lunch, refreshing it for tomorrow's lunch. I figured I'd just add some more lettuce and other crudités, then top it off with my fresh, sweet, tender peas.

When I opened the refrigerator, though, I suddenly remembered Miss Chef saying we had used up all the lettuce! Oh no! What to do??

Quick thinking me--"Duh, we have spinach outside!" It was just about full-on dark by then, so I hustled outside and snagged as many spinach leaves as I could without stripping the plants. This year we only ended up with 5 plants, for some reason, but four or five leaves from each adds up.

Then I stopped by the box of arugula, but only got a few leaves from them, as they've already bolted.

In case you're not familiar with the term, "bolting" simply means they put up those long shoots and started to flower. Most greens do this when they reach a certain maturity, or the temperature gets warm enough. This often turns the leaves bitter...though Miss Chef recently read that you can eat arugula flowers. I'll let her figure that one out. At any rate, they are still pretty to look at!

Back inside, I reassembled my salad, and thought it looked smashing! Even better, I realized that, without thinking about it, I was eating mostly local: most of the greens, the peas, the goat cheese, the carrots and the radishes (which are mostly buried).

( On the other hand, the dried cherries are from Michigan, and the dressing I'm gonna pour all over it tomorrow is from Hawai'i!)

Thus ends the first meal from the garden...although, technically, the meal won't even start until tomorrow afternoon. But I can assure you it will be as delicious as it looks--and I'm sure I'll inform anyone who asks that I growed most of it myself!


And now, as promised, here's the latest on Herb. He/she/it is still snugly ensconced in his/her/its pupa, but should be emerging any day now. I realized that there's a very good chance this might happen while Miss Chef and I are both at work. The only container I could come up with was a narrow-mouth quart canning jar, and I didn't want to have a new butterfly bashing its wings on the glass sides, trying to get out. I was afraid it would lose too many scales to survive.

So I made the decision to put Herb outside. I waited until today, because it's been pretty cool, especially at night, and I wanted to avoid a big, sudden temperature change between inside and outside. But it was in the mid-70s when I got home tonight, so I pulled him out and found a relatively sheltered spot to put him.

This is a potted sage plant a friend of ours was supposed to come get many moons ago. It's up on a stand next to our patio furniture, in an area where I haven't seen a whole lot of birds. Plus, as you can see, the green pupa blends in quite well! Way to go, Herb! (Like my arrow? I'm very proud of myself for figuring out how to insert that with our picture editing software.)

In the end, I may not be able to share pictures of Herb's final reveal. But I'll be checking on him morning and evening, and will be quick to grab the camera if I see anything spectacular going on! At the very least, there should be left an empty green casing. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, eh?


  1. I love peas with a salad, but I have to make do with slightly defrosted frozen peas from a bag. Your salad looks delicious!

    Nancy in Atlanta

  2. You prepared the salad on Wednesday but not going to eat it until Thursday? It looks awesome, I couldn't have resisted.

    I love, love fresh sweet peas and all that comes out of a veggie garden. Keep the photo's coming, I enjoy seeing things as they develop, good for my soul.

    Good luck to Herb!

  3. update! I did eat the salad today; it was delicious, and I even shared a couple of peas with a coworker.

    I'm not normally much of a salad eater, but it's hard to resist in spring, when stuff's just jumping out of the garden onto your plate.

  4. Very nice arrow. hehe!

    I can almost taste that salad. Wow!
    I grew up shucking peas at my grandparent's house, who always had several large gardens growing something at some time or another. Like you, I didn't really appreciate it as much as I do now.
    There is nothing like the fresh taste of produce you've grown yourself :)


  5. i. love. peas.!!!!
    our entire harvest last year was eaten raw...not a single pea made it to cook pot or freezer. Mmmm....yours are looking gorgeous and I envy you your pea trellis! :-)

  6. My envy of your peas knows no bounds. I did not get peas into the ground early enough this year and now it is too hot and too late. Grumblegrumbleragglesnaggle...


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