What Time Is It?

…”there is a time for every event under heaven…A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.” – King Solomon, the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3.

This past winter was a time for me to plant shelling peas.  I planted both bush and pole types.  While I preferred the taste of the bush variety (they seemed to be consistently more tender and sweeter), I got a lot more bang for my buck with the pole type which took up less space (since they grew vertically), produced more pods per plant, and produced for a longer period of time than the bush variety did.

One thing I’ve learned is that peas are not a tropical crop.  They grow best in cool climates.  They are definately  not the best choice for a protein crop in our area, but I don’t think I could stand it if I didn’t have them growing in my garden!  It is precisely for this reason that I plant a lot of pea seeds — quantity is a necessity when it comes to planting cool weather crops here in the Central Valley of California where we normally only have a few short weeks of cool weather in spring before the heat of summer takes over.  (It makes for a frantic harvest.  However, once the peas have been picked, and shelled, it’s a cinch to blanch them, pop them into freezer bags, and toss them into the freezer where they’re easily accessible for the rest of the long, hot summer.)  When temperatures consistently reach into the mid to high 80’s, and the plants become stressed and start drying out, I know harvest-time is over, and the season of “uprooting” must begin.

I look for plants that are fully dry with well-formed and dry pea pods to pull out.  The bush type are usually pretty easy to spot amongst the other seasonal, green plants that are sharing the beds with them, like this tomato.

The pods are removed from the plant.

The rest of the plant does not go to waste.  It is fed to Ginger and Maryann…they love it!

Because of the nitrogen-fixing ability of these legumes, I will also add some of the leftover plants to the compost pile where they will rot down very quickly, and eventually add nitrogen back into the soil, doing the same work as expensive nitrogenous fertilizers, but for free!

Now, back to the pods…  Once again, I shell the peas.  This time, though, they are dry and shriveled.

This year I made sure to purchase heirloom, organic seeds that are non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented so that I could save my own seed (but that’s another story for another time).  Once the peas have been shelled, they go into a labeled envelope, then put away in a cool, dark place.

But they won’t be gone long!  These next generation seeds will be brought out of the pantry,  in late July or August, when it’ll be “a time to plant” a crop of peas once again.

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