Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

Some people get caught up in St. Patrick's Day. My wife just left for a meeting in her green outfit. The best green here for me is the green coming outside.

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.

On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

Many gardeners look at the holidays as a guide for planting. St. Patrick's Day is the traditional time for sowing green peas. Mom always tried to plant potatoes around this time.

Peas are not difficult to grow. The earlier they mature, the sweeter they’ll be. Peas should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. In some areas, you might have to drill holes in the soil to plant peas on St. Patrick's. But not today in Ohio, the soil is about perfect!

You can sow them right under the snow, if necessary, but save some for a later planting as well. Avoid the heat of summer, that makes the worst peas if any at all.

Peas should be quickly steamed or eaten raw. They turn to starch several hours after picking—which is why peas that you buy are often sadly lacking in flavor. We enjoy our peas the way they taste best, right from the shell, and we savor them all season long!

Some people don't like peas though and green is not a favorite color for many. I think we just take it for granted. Green beans are still my favorite and there is nothing prettier than a green crop growing.

Peas are definitely a cool weather crop but cousin soybean won't be planted around here for quite awhile. Not knowing the future weather I wouldn't be afraid to plant some today to see how they fare. Farming is about following the seasons and so far this is an early one in Ohio.

With snow peas, sugar snaps, winter peas and vining green peas there are all kinds to choose from. A stir fry without some peas is missing something!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Ed Winkle

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