Archive for the ‘Beans & Peas’ Category

IMG_9753 Our sugar snap peas got super tall this year — Matt is about 6 feet tall for comparison. Granted, they are planted in raised beds that are about a foot off the ground. But still, these suckers got big! We just harvested close to a hundred of these and the snow peas. Going to be a delicious side for dinner tonight!

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Our trellis rig for the peas (snow peas here).

Our trellis rig for the peas (snow peas here).

One benefit to square foot gardening is everything is on a grid. That’s also part of its problem (for us anyway). When planting the peas earlier this year, I plopped the seeds — eight per square — in the soil and let nature take its course. It wasn’t until a week or so later that I realized my planting method was flawed.

I didn’t pay attention to where I put the seeds and thus created the “great trellis challenge” of 2015. A couple of weeks ago, the peas were growing happily, with tendrils looking for something to climb. We had to figure it out. I’ll credit my brilliant husband, Matt, for coming up with this.

We did our best to untangle the plants from each other and put two stakes in between the “rows” of peas. Then we took this bendable wire fencing we’ve had for years, folded it and slid the rig over the stakes. It’s got big enough squares to weave the peas in and out where needed, but not so big that the peas need to climb huge gaps. Also, peas are easy to train but require a bit of care because they’re rather fragile.

The wire & stake trellis for the peas (snow peas here).

The wire & stake trellis for the peas (snow peas here).

And when we needed to add another row because the peas grew even taller? We just added one more piece to the top. Admittedly, it’s quite a haphazard set up, but it was cheap and it works!

When the peas are done and the beans have started to grow, we’ll just move it where we need it. Though this time I’ll be more aware of where I’m planting the seeds.

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As I mentioned before, the spring weather has not been very “spring like.” It’s been colder than normal, and there have been nights of freezing temperatures and snow flurries. Not exactly ideal conditions for starting our spring crops, which I’ve always been told should be in the ground around the Ides of March.

Because of the wild weather swings, we tried to outsmart Mother Nature and pre-sprout our pea plants. I knew they wouldn’t germinate in the soil when it was that cold outside. And it worked wonderfully!

IMG_9307The basics are pretty easy: take the pea seeds (really just shriveled up peas) and place them in a damp paper towel. If you have two different kinds, I’d suggest labeling them. We just used permanent marker to write on the paper towels before soaking them.

Once the seeds are in place, place them in a covered container (we used a small pyrex bowl, but you could also use a plastic bag) and place them in a warm place. For us, that was the top of the refrigerator. Check on them after a couple of days and dampen the paper towels, if needed. Ours took about three or four days for all the peas to sprout. Once they’re sprouted, plant as soon as possible in the garden.

IMG_9595Ours are up and doing great, even though the day I planted them (March 23), it was spitting snow. But it seems winter has finally released its tenuous grasp on Cincinnati and the weather these past few days has been quite lovely!

Now our only challenge will be trying to figure out how to trellis the peas as they grow because I didn’t think that far ahead when I planted them in the garden.

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We actually had a really good, big harvest from our green bean plants. The problem, however, is we only had one. And it came at the end of August.

Most of this is our fault. First, because we planted them too late — in June after the peas were done. Second, because we forgot to check them after the first bowl.

We also attribute some of this to the weird weather this summer. It was cooler than most summers and we had a lot of rain in July.

The Kentucky Wonder pole beans grew very well — some tendrils and leaves reached more than six feet tall and wrapped around our garage toward the tomatoes. But once they started to actually mature into beans, quite a few were bulging, which means they’re overly mature and could be tough (not good).

The good and the bad of our green bean harvest.

The good and the bad of our green bean harvest.


We made a delicious garlicky green bean sauté (recipe below) but wished we had more throughout the summer. On a positive note, the deer didn’t eat them like they have the past couple years.

So, what can be done better next year? We need to plant early! And check on them more often. I’d love to have a steady supply throughout the season.

Garlicky green beans

We had about a pound or so of the green beans, and this is an adaptation of a recipe I found. First, snap off the ends and de-string the beans. Then cut/trim to desired size.

Toss into a pot of boiling, salted water and cook for about three or four minutes. While those are cooking, add garlic to hot pan with oil. We used about four or five cloves of garlic.

Once the green beans are done, transfer from the boiling water to the pan with garlic and continue to sauté for another four or five minutes, stirring, until the green beans are crisp tender.

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The weather is getting warmer and that means the end of our peas. They didn’t do as well as we’d hoped because it was too cold early in the season, too warm as they blossomed, and the deer were eating the shoots once they started growing.

We probably got a good bowl of pods and could’ve had more if we didn’t keep eating them right off the vine. I pulled the peas this past weekend to make space for planting our green beans. Even though there were still a handful of blossoms and tiny pea pods, it was time for them to go into the compost bin. But not all was lost.

I was able to harvest quite a bit of pea shoots for a quick and delicious side. There are tons of recipes out there, but here’s what I did.


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Sugar snap peas coming along nicely.

Sugar snap peas coming along nicely.

Our peas are coming along nicely, but I’m not sure if we will get anything. The weather was a bit too unpredictable this spring, so they were planted late.

Some rotted in the ground or otherwise didn’t sprout. They’ve started putting out tendrils so we needed to give them support.

Instead of a trellis we used a wire fence that was in the garage. It’s not very tall but it works. I’m still afraid the weather will get too warm before we get any peas. Keeping my fingers crossed that at least a few pods form.

If they don’t, at least we found out last year that pea shoots are pretty tasty.

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It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

After all the gardening research, reading and planning this winter, spring was supposed to be the start of a splendid gardening season.

But Ohio’s weather seems to have something else in mind. On the first day of spring this year it was 38 degrees. Last year we were seeing record-breaking temperatures around 83 degrees.

We’re now almost two full weeks into spring, and the weather pattern is still wreaking havoc on our plans. It’s been warm then cold, sunny then snowy.

Luckily we had a bit of a break this past weekend and were able to get some garden prep and planting finished. We finally removed all the weed barriers from under the raised beds, turned under the decomposing leaves, and mixed everything together with a small dose of compost from our bin. Everything was much easier and quicker with help from my fiancé and his brother!

Our broccoli transplants are in the ground. We're hoping they do well this year.

Our broccoli transplants are in the ground. We’re hoping they do well this year.

We also planted a few vegetables, even though it’s a couple weeks later than expected.

With the weather a bit colder than usual – and a few nights with below freezing temperatures – I’m a bit worried about how it will work.

Peas, lettuce, spinach and broccoli are pretty frost-tolerant so we’re hopeful they sprout and survive. I checked the broccoli yesterday morning, and the leaves were a little wilted.

When I checked again in the evening, they seemed to bounce back and are looking healthy. I might cover them tonight if the temperatures are still expected to be chilly.

I’d remove the cover (probably the landscape fabric we removed this weekend) from the broccoli in the morning, but I think I might leave it on the lettuce, spinach and peas to warm up the soil and give a small boost to the germinating seeds.

We’ll also plant another few rows of lettuce and spinach in a couple weeks so we’re not forced to eat nothing but greens for weeks when it all matures at the same time. Or it might be to replace what the squirrels decide to dig up.

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The past couple weeks have been absolutely brutal on our garden. Powerful storms blew through the area, it hasn’t rained in what seems like weeks (except for a few scattered sprinkles) and we’ve had record-breaking heat with several days climbing past 100 degrees.

We’ve kept everything watered as well as we could, but the heat seems to be taking its toll on our garden. The green beans don’t seem to be getting any bigger, a couple eggplants wrinkled almost overnight and our lettuce turned bitter.

I’ve also noticed blossom-end rot on a handful of tomatoes just as they’re starting to turn color. That’s a bummer.

It also appears the bugs are munching on our Brussels sprouts again and on the eggplant leaves.

I’m searching for solutions to all these issues an hoping the break in the weather and the rain will give us a chance to make this garden productive again.

The only good news is that we’ve picked many jalapeños (our golden crop) and the blackberries started turning black.

Let’s hope everything rebounds in July.

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Last year, we failed at peas. We planted them in early June without realizing peas need cool weather to thrive. Needless to say, they yellowed and  died pretty quickly.

We managed to get our peas in the ground early enough this year and they’ve been doing great. Snow peas came in early and we had so many.

Almost ready to pick!

The sugar snaps are doing pretty well, not producing as much as I hoped but they’re still growing and blooming. I’m sure it didn’t help that this has been one of the warmest springs on record! At the end of May we had several days of 90-degree weather and no rain.

It also probably didn’t help that every time I saw a sugar snap was ready, I’d pick it off the vine and eat it, something I often did in my grandpa’s garden. I guess old habits are hard to break. =)

Now it’s cooled off a bit and I hope we get another harvest.

Snow peas in the front, sugar snap in the back.

Second harvest of snow peas.

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