Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pea Friends

The peas are still growing nicely and size-wise they are right on track.

Yesterday my DH and I stopped in at the local cooperative extension where I had a chance to look at their peas and compare them to how ours are doing.  I am happy to report that they are doing exactly the same.  Aside from the traditional straight rows that they have at the extension instead of our parterre curved rows, they could be twins.  Two peas in a pod, so to speak...

Of course the peas aren't the only thing that's coming up in the vegetable parterre.  We also have the perennial vegetables.  This horseradish is doing well so far.  I've left the leaves in the bed to act as a blanket for it until all danger of frost has passed.  Even though we had a mild winter we are getting some freezes this weekend.  I know that a lot of the growth that is up will die from the cold, but the root and new shoots just starting to come up need to be protected for a few more weeks.

Around here there are 3 dates for last frost.  Mother's Day (May 13th) according to local shoppers, the first full moon in May (May 6th) according to the farmers and May 3rd according to the National Climatic Data Center.  I do what the farmers say to do.  After all, their livelihood depends on it so I think they put a little more thought into the accuracy of their planting dates than anybody else.  I've never had a problem when I listen to the farmers.

The rhubarb is coming up nicely also.  Believe it or not, these are the baby leaves.  They are going to grow up and double in size.  I got the rhubarb as a bare root plant about 4 years ago.  It was planted in the vegetable parterre well before there was a formal pattern laid out for the beds.  Now it is getting so big that I know I will have to move it since it's spilling over the edge of the bed and into the path.

When I move it, even though it only has to go back into the bed about 3-feet, it's going to be a little angry with me and will probably need a year or so to settle in again.  That's okay though.  I only make a few things with rhubarb: strawberry rhubarb pie (a "must have" for Spring eating), strawberry rhubarb refrigerator jam (gets me to Summer), and rhubarb compote (more of a "tonic" than a yummy thing to eat - it's actually quite bitter).  So the harvest leaves a lot of the plant behind in the garden to soak up the sun and nutrients making for a very large rhubarb plant.

I planted the rhubarb because my grandpa had rhubarb in his garden.  When I go out and see it there it reminds me of him and spending time at his place in the summer with my siblings and cousins.  When I make the rhubarb pie I can hear him saying, "There's some blueberry pie in the freezer, Joe."  He called us all "Joe" and there was always pie in the freezer which he always said was blueberry even if it wasn't.

Breakfasts at grandpa's meant fresh eggs, toast, homemade corned beef hash (from dinner the night before), hot shredded wheat (warm milk, butter and salt), cold corn on the cob and a big slice of pie.  It was the most important meal of the day, don't 'cha know.  I think it came from his Vermont roots.  You needed something hearty to keep you hardy during those cold winters.  It must have worked for him because he ate all of that and was still as skinny as a twig.

Rhubarb, lilacs and hollyhocks.  These are my grandpa's plants and they are in my garden every year to remind me of him.

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