Monday, August 24, 2015

Celia's Field Peas

Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot...
Years ago a neighbor-down-the-street gave me a handful of heirloom field peas her family calls Celia's Peas. Her grandmother grew them. Perhaps they go back further in history. Who knows their original name? Maybe not even Celia. They are climbers, not bush, requiring a tall support growing at least eight feet this year. The pods are nine inches long with 15  or more peas in each pod, shiny pale green with somewhat darker eyes. I have read that over time heirlooms adapt to their specific growing area and become individualized to specific micro-climates. I like that idea. I grow them every summer, save the seeds and replant the next year. Now, the most common field peas are bush varieties mainly because they are harvested by machinery. My grandmother grew Dixie Lee peas, a bush variety, because she liked how easy they were to shell. I like growing Celia's trellised peas because they are so easy to pick; no bending, no stooping. Oh yes, did I forget to say, they are also delicious!

Note: My grandmother kept a big ole pot of peas on the stove at all times. If the words "I'm hungry." passed anyone's lips, her ready reply? "Fix yourself a bowl of peas." Even if they were Dixie Lees, they sure were good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

the food mill

Oh my! I love my new food mill. I've considered one for years. Today I'm gobsmacked! In minutes I had processed the skins and seeds from our homegrown tomato glut! Minutes, I tell you! We will have a tomato saucy something for dinner. And I will redouble my efforts to keep the tomato plants alive in the god forsaken almost-drought we having.

Next up? Figs. Which I will use in smoothies instead of bananas. Take that all you fig haters. Free vs. 44 cents a pound.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

No Rain!

July was dry. August has seen no rain. So? I water. I'm selective in that I don't water the grass.

That's a joke. The grass looks dead. Bermuda grass does that. It plays possum when the rains stop then miraculously comes back to life, like Lasurus, greening up when the rains return. Right now it's brown, a pretty buff brown that contrasts with the green oases of the vegetable beds. 

Our backyard beds are slowly letting go of summer with this dry spell. Tomatoes are dying one by one. Squash bugs are taking out their hosts even before I get a fruit. Without water the okra and field peas would be goners. Even the herbs would have died had I not provided life support.

Fried pink and green tomatoes.

A few weeks ago I planted Waltham butternut squash. They too are being watered and are growing by leaps and bounds. I have itty bitty baby butternuts. Three days ago I planted spaghetti squash and low and behold there it was this morning peeping out of the moist soil! Which leads me to write about germination temperatures.
Itty bitty butternuts!

There is an optimum temperature for germination that varies based on the seed. Some like it hot, some not. Perhaps there is a logic to this but I haven't divined it on my own. I go online to Johnny's Seeds, choose the plant I'm about to plant, and check the graph for optimal germination temperature. 
Kale!These babies germinated overnight! What?!