Posts Tagged ‘pea shoots’

CobraHead Garden Review 2014

Sunday, December 7th, 2014
Summer Harvest

Summer Harvest

Leaves in the Beds

Leaves in the Beds

The garden is put to bed. I was diligent about dragging in leaves to cover most of the beds with a thick protective layer. Last year snows and cold weather came before I was ready and the leaf covering ritual was interrupted. That caused me much more work this season than I wanted to do, but I did learn a lot about weeding. Without the leaf cover, weeds emerged sooner and the ground in the beds was not as soft. The extra weeding re-affirmed my belief that we approach weeds wrongly in both gardening and agriculture and that a far more sustainable approach would be to use a lot of hand labor to control weeds.

Well Weeded Garden

Well Weeded Garden

I did end up getting the garden paths and beds nice and clean by the time the season ended and I promise to be diligent about getting the leaves raked in from now on.

Tomato Trellis

Tomato Trellis

My biggest garden triumph was the building of a very rugged and useful tomato trellis using t-posts and bamboo stakes. The tomatoes loved it and I’ll be refining this approach for future tomato growing.

Flowering Oregano

Flowering Oregano

I expanded my herb bed and was amazed at the power of oregano as a pollinator attractor. It was loaded with insects of all types, especially bumblebees, for most of the summer and well into the fall.

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch Caterpillar

One insect that was not as plentiful as in other years was the Monarch butterfly. We had a few, but their decline may be apparent in my own backyard.

Violetta Italia

Violetta Italia

Several crops performed exceptionally well for us this year, including coles of all types. In addition to the beautiful violetta italia cauliflower, we had a never ending supply of broccoli raab, some really nice cabbages, great Brussels sprouts, and Red Russian kale is now a plentiful volunteer that has to be treated as a weed.

Onions

Onions

We probably had our best onion harvest ever. Unfortunately, the leeks did not fare well due to my planting them too deeply. A lesson learned and a reinforcement of the home gardening mantra of “don’t worry, plant enough different stuff, you will always get something.”

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Peppers were great, too and we heard from other gardeners that this was a good year for them.

Volunteer Pea Shoots

Volunteer Pea Shoots

On a road trip restaurant stop, we learned about using peas shoots as a vegetable and now they will be part of our harvest along with the peas, themselves.

Whitetail Deer

Whitetail Deer

Our worst garden pests continue to be mammals, not insects. Deer and woodchucks would consume most of our tender crops if we did not fence, trap, and let the dog run.

Boots Guarding Catnip

Boots Guarding Catnip

My most faithful garden helper is not the dog, but Boots, who is always assisting with weeding, harvesting, and providing company even if it may not be totally wanted.

I’m looking forward to 2015.

Volunteer Pea Shoots

Monday, October 20th, 2014
Pea Shoot Salad

Pea Shoot Salad

I made this pea shoot salad last night which included all garden pickings – pea shoots plus baby carrots, baby beets, cilantro, red onion and several varieties of cherry tomatoes.  The first time I knowingly ate pea shoots was this past summer. We were on a road trip to the GWA (Garden Writers Association) conference and stopped for lunch in South Bend, IN. We found a great little Chinese restaurant (J.W. Chens) just off the freeway right next to Notre Dame University.  We had a most delicious lunch that included a side of lightly sautéed pea shoots. I’m guessing the light seasoning may have been sesame oil and garlic.

After our pea shoot experience we started reading up on them. I figured that you had to grow them specifically for that purpose, and you can, but that’s not necessary. You can actually harvest the top tender 4-6 inches of your established pea plants to use for cooking or salads and the plants will continue to grow and produce pods. That was confirmed when the local deer herd did some pruning for us this year and the plants and the peas came back with a vengeance.

In fact, we had so many peas this year I couldn’t keep up with them. We let a lot of them dry on the vine to use for pea soup. Even when the vines and pods dry up the plants continue to produce new growth at the top. When I harvested the dry pods and pulled up the old vines I didn’t realize that I could have been snipping off the green tops for a stir fry.

This brings me back to our pea shoot salad of last night.  When you let peas or beans dry on the vine, a few of them invariably break open and fall to the ground. Some of the fallen peas this year sprouted and grew as volunteers. Noel mentioned yesterday that I had some harvesting to do and I wondered what I had missed – pea shoots. There were over a dozen plants already 10-12 “ long and trailing on the ground so I just pinched off about 6” of the tender tips and left the rest growing. If the weather holds we may just get another picking.

Volunteer Pea Shoots

Volunteer Pea Shoots

Growing Microgreens

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

My friend Ted Skenandore of the Tsyuhehkwa Center has been growing pea and sunflower micro-greens and explained his method to me a few months ago.  Now I’ve been growing them for myself as well as with the young people of the Save Our Youth program.  These are his directions.  My comments are in parenthesis.

  • Fill a 11″ x 21″ tray with small drainage holes half full of potting soil.  (The standard black greenhouse trays that are referred to as 1020 trays work well.)
  • Water potting soil
  • Add about one cup of seeds evenly across soil (Use one cup only if the seeds are large, like peas or sunflowers.  You only need 2-3 tablespoons if the seeds are small like Chinese cabbage or radishes.)
  • Add enough potting soil to cover seeds
  • Press in firmly
  • Water again
  • Cover with second tray that is the same size and press in firmly again.  (For the second tray I use one that doesn’t have holes in it.)
  • Water every two days.  (I have found that if the trays are indoors they only need to be watered every three to four days.)
  • When seedlings start to push top tray up flip it upside down and re-cover.
  • When seedlings push upside down tray up uncover and put in sunny location for one day
  • Seedlings should turn green and are ready to harvest
Sunflower Microgreens still pale before being exposed to sunlight.

The sunflower Microgreens just after I removed the top tray.

Sunflower MicroGreens after one day exposure to sunlight

The sunflower microgreens later that same day.

Pea Microgreen shoots ready to eat

Pea Micro-greens ready to eat.

Microgreens have gotten a lot of hype about their alleged super nutritional value.  Unfortunately the evidence doesn’t yet back that claim up.  They are, however, a great addition to one’s regular outdoor gardening.  I like having something ready to eat one week to ten days after I sow it and they taste great.