If you are a returning Harvest Basket member, you have surely started to wonder where the sugar snap peas are. Usually you see them in your tote by the first week of July, but I have some sad news to break to you all: this year’s pea crop was a complete and utter failure.
Heartbreaking, I know. I normally do three seedings (planting three lines of peas into a bed that’s 220 feet long, which equals a lot of peas). That was the plan this year, but week after week I met with failure. All told I did five seedings this spring (each one increasingly desperate), and dumped over 30 pounds of seed (more than a hundred dollar's worth) into the ground.
Why the rotten pea luck? Let me count the ways:
- Rain. The first seeding in early April literally rotted in the ground as it endured day after day of sopping rain and cold weather.
- Slugs. The second seeding emerged bravely, but a few days later was razed by a voracious pack of slugs who left their slime trails as evidence all down the bed.
- Birds. I decided not to cover the third seeding with the floating row cover I usually use for early spring crops, in hopes of reducing the cozy habitat the slugs were enjoying. The birds caught on to me and pecked every single (and I mean EVERY SINGLE) seed out of the soil a few days later.
- Mice. With my first three original seedings a total flop, I doubled back, tilled up the first bed again, and seeded once more (we farmers can be a heroically, er foolishly, optimistic lot!). I covered the bed this time and checked on my little peas every day. One day they germinated (hallelujah). And the next day they were gone. All that was left was little piles of pea seed hulls, and lots of holes in my floating row cover. The mice were on to me! They had chewed through the row cover, mined out the pea seeds, and feasted mightily.
- Mice again. In one last desperate act at the end of May, I attempted to seed peas once more. See number 4 above for outcome. (I imagine there are some very fat mice waddling around in the clover these days. My mouse-hunting dog, Sula, has been fired for sleeping on the job).
So finally, I gave up. Sometimes, it turns out, that’s the smartest thing a person can do.
Lessons learned? Oh yes. This year’s designated pea beds were on the edge of the field, bordering our marionberries and a patch of perennial roadway clover. The clover is wonderful habitat for: a) slugs, and b) mice. The wire trellis supporting the berries is a fantastic perch for: a) birds. In regards to the suitability of this particular location for direct seeding peas, it has been deemed: a) terrible, b) awful, c) pea-cidal, and finally, d) never to be used again (even if the crop rotation dictates it).
Is there any silver lining to this story, some kind of happy ending?
Well, no promises, but we did decide to plant an extra batch of sweet corn where the peas were supposed to be (no, we were not so foolish as to direct seed a bunch of tasty little corn seed morsels into that ground, for fear of starting an obesity epidemic within the nearby mouse population). Today while I write this newsletter, Roberto is painstakingly transplanting a thousand baby corn seedlings into those beds. We started them in the greenhouse last week, and if all goes well (it might be a big “if”), you’ll be getting an extra load of sweet corn in your tote this fall.
Hopefully that will make up for the pile of despair that a pea-less year might bring about in some circles. And to take your mind off of it in the here and now, how about some RED CABBAGE!?! Read on!
In your share this week:
- Broccoli or Broccolini
- Head Lettuce
- Hakurei Turnips
- Red Cabbage
- Red Ursa Kale
This means that some pickup locations will receive it this week, others next week – or in a future week.
Here comes some of the heftier food, at last! If you are tired of greens and hakurei turnips, well, I won’t blame you. The good news is that carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and some of the other summer crops are starting to size up. (The sun helps). I guarantee that you won’t be eating lettuce and kale forever, and in a couple months when you are swimming in peppers and tomatoes and fennel and carrots and beets and potatoes and cauliflower all at once, you probably won’t even remember this (possibly challenging for some) first month of Harvest Basket eating. Some of you greens lovers might even miss it….
As for your red cabbage, one of the best things about it is that there’s no pressure to eat it right away. It will keep in your fridge for a long time – a month, or even longer. But like most things, it’s best fresh out of the ground. Enjoy a summer slaw (ribbon up some of that red ursa kale, slice some of your hakureis, and toss in some chopped basil for a wonderful twist on an old-fashioned staple). There’s a recipe for kimchee on our website, as well as many other recipes, or you can steam it and douse it with some good olive oil, salt and vinegar for a quick and simple preparation.
This week’s red cabbage kicks off the march of the cabbages: you’ll see a different kind of cabbage in your harvest basket each month from here on out: green, savoy, napa, and other varieties are still to come.
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
For recipes and ideas, check out these links:
Our own collection of recipes that you can contribute to
Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient
A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients
A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient