HELEN LANG: Peas pass the beans

Let’s talk for a moment about planting peas, please.

Is it me, or by any chance is it my machine?

They say a poor workman always blames his tools, so I guess it could be me. My computer has swallowed my article, just when I was going to add a couple of wonderful words of wisdom and now it is gone forever. I’m blessed if I can remember what I was going on about, no doubt something to do with spring, but that is a big topic. What on earth shall I do now? Start all over again seems to be the only answer.

 

•   •   •   •

 

It’s still a little early to start most planting outdoors, although not too early to plant peas, maybe spinach, chard and radishes, especially if you cover the seed bed with Reemay cloth. It allows water to pass through but protects against  light frost.

Let’s talk for a moment about planting  peas.

Once you have prepared a seed bed, dig in plenty of composted manure or good compost (is there a bad kind? I don’t think so!) Then put in your pea seed.

I like Little Marvel myself for its generosity — instead of one pod at the end of a stem, there are two! These aren’t as big pods as the Alderman variety produces, but are both early and delicious.

I’m going to get some tomorrow, soak them overnight and plant them the next day.

At the same time I’ll get a package of the same seed for Anthony, who works for my brother and has a small garden on my brother’s property, where he delights in providing the kitchen with fresh vegetables.

I know that wonderful feeling myself. If you didn’t get around to planting Broad beans last fall you could plant the seed now and expect a crop in July or maybe early August.

If you like creamed Lima beans, you would probably enjoy creamed Broad beans as well.

For those of you who are just beginning to cook, the sauce is a plain white sauce. Melt a heaping teaspoon of butter (margarine), then add a level tablespoon of white flour. Stir until they are blended, then add about  3/4 cup of milk and stir until smooth. Cook over gentle heat until it bubbles and thickens, before adding the already cooked, steamed beans. Add salt to taste, and you’ve got it!

I’m pretty sure the article I lost had a bit about dwarf iris in it. I think you’d love these beautiful small plants, grown from bulbs planted in the fall. The one called iris reticulata is exquisite, both small, a dark blue, with a thin fuzzy yellow streak down each petal. There is another, not quite as spectacular, named Danfordia. If you love small, but glorious flowers, plant some of these dwarf iris next fall. A cluster of these bulbs planted about two inches apart in a big pot would be a heart stopping sight next spring. If you have a heart problem, avoid even a glimpse!

 

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

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