Pea Picking Lessons Learned

On March 18, 2014, two packets of English (Garden/Green) Peas were scattered in a wide row in God’s Garden #2.  It was my first time to plant them and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Three weeks later, on April 8, the peas had sprouted and were growing quite well in spite of cool weather.

Ten weeks later, on May 27, I harvested the first English Peas.

As mentioned earlier, the seeds were scattered in a wide row (and pressed into the soil), not planted one by one by one in a long row.  My idea was that the peas would support themselves as they grew taller, their thin tendrils reaching out to plants around for support.  This worked well until the plants became top heavy with full pods.

And, I do mean top heavy…full of pods.

With a strong gust of wind, the entire row of plants fell sideways as the weight shifted. Not a problem, really, as all I had to do was pick and pick and pick.  As I said before, the peas were at the top of the plants.  Of course, there were a few plants at the bottom that hid their peas from me but it was an easy task to reach up under and among the plants and feel for the full pods.

I reaped an amazing harvest at the first picking.  Every seed sown sprouted, it seemed.  And, every sprout produced (so far) 15 to 20 pods.  And, most of the pods contained 7 to 8 peas.

So, do the math…. From one pea came (so far, at first picking) a maximum bounty of 160 peas.  I planted 70 peas.

I’ve shelled one large pot of peas and have another in my refrigerator.  And, the plants contain immature pods and are blooming still. At least one more harvest (maybe two) will come before hot weather calls a halt to the English Pea fun.

Here are some lessons learned pea picking – English Pea picking, that is.

  • Next planting, provide a support for the peas to cling to.
  • Watch for bees.  Nuff said about that.
  • Take a larger container with you than you think possible to fill.
  • Pods are ready to be picked at any time/size.
  • Tender pods can be eaten whole.
  • Tiny peas are full of sugary goodness when eaten raw.
  • The larger the pea within the pod, the fatter the pod grows and the easier it is to shell.
  • I prefer to shell the peas as I would Butter Beans – by breaking the pod from the outside edge with my thumbnail and pulling the pod apart.
  • Fresh peas smell…wonderful and sweet.
  • My fingers felt a bit sticky when I finished shelling.
  • Dachshunds love fresh, raw English Peas.
  • I prefer English Peas raw to cooked. Yum!
  • Shelling peas is relaxing.
  • Snipping the pods from the plants is better than pulling them – they are firmly attached and quite tough.
  • When an immature pod is opened and the peas removed, where each pea was attached to the pod, white milky sweet stuff oozes.
  • To keep the plants blooming, mature and maturing pods must be picked regularly.
  • Pea pods can be recycled…right back into the garden – no need to trash them.
  • Not everyone understands the joy or healthy benefits from growing peas.
  • Green is a color that produces calmness and good emotions in me.
  • Sharing pea shelling and making it a family event brings people together and offers time to chat.
  • Shelling peas requires two hands…sometimes three, depending on where you’re sitting. 😉
  • Shelled peas, when dropped on the floor, roll – and can roll quite a distance from where they landed.
  • Organically grown in the backyard, English Peas are some of the healthiest snacks around.
  • Next season I will PLANT MORE PEAS!!

Pocket Hose Review

Yesterday’s post shared how Pocket Hose came to the rescue when I needed more hose length in order to water my garden.

The Pocket Hose was purchased with a task far different in mind. It was to attach to my kitchen sink and run out the door to the garden – but, the right size attachment to fit my faucet wasn’t available…anywhere.  My thought was that the lack of rigidity would be a plus as I snaked it from the faucet, down the cabinet and out the back door.

Perhaps it would have been.  But, I think I would have been dissatisfied and disappointed.

The Pocket Hose, when connected to the end of two regular type hosepipes, presented me with a problem I didn’t foresee when I purchased it – a problem I still would have had if I’d been able to connect it to the kitchen faucet.

When attempting to use it to water the garden without a wand or spray nozzle, I found it too snakelike for my liking.  It was wiggly and soft – difficult to hold in one hand and create a spray with my thumb in the opening.  I opted to place the Pocket Hose as the center hosepipe and move one of the regular hoses to the end.  The rigid pipe was much easier to handle than the Pocket Hose.

While the Pocket Hose is a bit different than I thought it would be (and to be honest, I’m not sure I really thought through what it would be like to use one), it’s an interesting tool that (so far) works well in the passive role in which it’s assigned.

The only things I dislike about it (so far) are that

  • to spray anything, a sprayer attachment of some type is required,  (The old thumb in the opening doesn’t work well for the Pocket Hose because the hose is too flexible. Of course, the advertisements show it used with a wand or sprayer.)
  • and it’s recommended that you disconnect the Pocket Hose, drain it and take it INDOORS when not in use. (That’s time consuming on both ends of a chore – time I prefer to spend on other things and will most likely just leave the hose connected.)

Would I purchase another Pocket Hose? Probably not.  I wouldn’t have purchased the one I have if I’d not planned to connect it to my kitchen faucet.  The fact that it doesn’t kink is, however, a major plus.  And, and it’s lightweight…easy to carry…space saving when stored….

There are a few definite pluses…if I’m not careful I might talk myself into purchasing another…. But, no…the fact that it needs to receive more care than I’m accustomed to giving garden hoses makes me leery of investing more $ in something that may not last long at all.

I want a garden hose that will last YEARS (and years) without special care. I’m a rough and tumble sort of gardener and I expect my tools to take the use (and abuse) I give them.

As I see it, the Pocket Hose is more of an occasional conversation piece than a garden tool and would (perhaps) work well for small areas needing light watering…condos or townhouses with little or no outdoor storage.

There’s one thing that really bothers me about the Pocket Hose and I hesitate to mention it but here goes.

The instructions are on the backside of the cardboard display that’s wrapped around the hose and INSIDE the tightly sealed package.  In other words – there was hidden information that could (probably would) have changed my mind about purchasing the Pocket Hose if I’d had access to it.

Information like:

  • NOTE:  To prolong the life of your Pocket Hose Ultra, completely drain and ALWAYS store INDOORS when not in use.
  • QR Code (I thought the purpose of the QR was to provide consumers information PRIOR to purchase – apparently not.)
  • WARNING: DO NOT use this product for commercial applications, in hot water applications, or high pressure applications (such as a pressure washer). Doing so may cause serious personal injury and/or damage or destroy the product. (–So, what happens if you use the hose, go inside for lunch, the hose warms and the water becomes hot, you are using a sprayer attachment and when you turn the water back on and pressure builds…the water in the hose will be hot…will the hose…burst??)
  • WARNING: For GENERAL outdoor use ONLY in applications under 80psi. (Um…general household water supplies are between 40psi and 80psi from what I’ve read online. What happens when a spray nozzle is attached to the end of a Pocket Hose??)
  • WARNING:  DO NOT leave this product unattended when it is in use or under pressure.
  • WARNING: Strangulation hazard.
  • WARNING: NEVER stretch or expand the hose when empty or not under water pressure. Hose will snap back if stretched and released and may cause serious injury.
  • WARNING: DO NOT drink from this or any garden hose.
  • Keep out of reach of children or pets.

As I said, none of the above information was available to me as I stood in Home Depot’s garden center and pondered purchasing the hose.

Believe me, I looked.

Extricating the hose required the use of a sharp knife which created (in my opinion) an unnecessary and real risk to not only myself but to the hose as well.  It was only after the package was cut open and the hose was removed that the information became visible.

In my opinion the negative outweighs the positive where my needs and desires are concerned.

So, my advice is: Buyers be aware before you buy.

Pocket Hose to the Rescue

God’s Garden #2 (in my backyard as opposed to God’s Garden #1 in Mom’s) looked a bit dry.  Seedlings were up and growing and we’d not had much rain.  To assist the okra, I watered the rows using a large laundry detergent bottle (I’d punched holes in the cap to allow the water to sprinkle out like a watering can).  That was time consuming and backbreaking work.

But, with the only water spigot in the front yard near the road, and my hosepipes far too short to cover the length required to go from the faucet to the garden, I felt this was my only option.

After several days of watering my okra in this manner, I noticed other plants were beginning to show a need of water…in fact, the whole garden was.

There was NO way I was going to have the time to water every plant in the garden by hand.  It would take me all day…ALL day.

I would have to hook my hoses to the spigot and see how far they would stretch.

And, so I did. In the two years that we’ve lived here, not once had I turned on the spigot to see if it even worked.  So, as I attached one of my hoses to it, I wondered if this was an exercise in frustration far more than I was yet to realize.

With one hose attached, I then attached the other hose to the end of the first hose. Now I had 150 feet of garden hose running from the spigot, across my front yard, toward the back gate and….

Wow – the length of hose didn’t even make it to the backyard gate.

I stood and stared at my old garden hoses.  The yellow one was pretty beaten up and I was certain one particularly bad area would leak.  The tan one looked kinked but sound.

I crossed the yard to the spigot and twisted the handle. Water began to leak from the connection – I tightened it until the leak was only an occasional drip.

Then, I looked back over the length of the hose.

Nothing was coming out the far end of it.  Everything was exiting through a hole in the yellow hose.  Everything. It was a gusher. Straight up into the air it sprayed.

I turned the water off and headed for the garage.

I’d bought a $2.00 hose mender earlier in the year – just in case.

This appeared to be as good a case as any to give it a try.

With the hose mender and a pair of scissors in hand, I headed back out to the hose. I cut out the bad section of the yellow hose and attached the hose mender to the newly cut ends.

It worked like a charm.

Then I remembered I’d purchased a Pocket Hose at the same time I’d purchased the hose mender. The plan was to hook it to my kitchen sink with an attachment and run it out the back door…mere feet from my garden. But, finding the right sized attachment to fit my sink was an adventure in futility.

Back into the garage I went to find where I’d stashed the Pocket Hose.  The instructions that came with it said it would stretch to 50 feet in length.

With the Pocket Hose attached to the other hoses, I turned the water on again and watched for additional leaks.

Everything looked good.

The Pocket Hose expanded and lengthened as water filled it.  Snake-like in appearance, it wriggled on the ground….

The additional 50 feet (plus) that the Pocket Hose provided took me through the backyard gate and into the midst of the garden where I was able to reach each corner with spray from the hose.

Ahhh…Pocket Hose to the rescue – no more lugging heavy bottles of water for me!

 

 

 

 

Creature of Habit

I’ll admit it – I’m a creature of habit.

My mind works best when I follow set patterns of activity (especially in the mornings) and routines I’ve created for myself.

Mental organization, set in my ways – call it what you will…it works for me and works well.

Interrupt me…get me off routine and my mind goes blank. Whatever I was thinking about/working on is gone. I’m mixed up, messed up, out of focus, frustrated, and off track.

Let me tell you…that is not my happy place.  And, it’s not your happy place either if you’ve interrupted my habitual progress into my day of work and activities.

But, as frustrating as it can be…getting off task and out of habit can be a blessing in disguise.

Habits have a way of insulating us and giving us a false sense of order, security, and productivity.

Habits feel good and healthy habits and routines can do us good.

But, if we’re not careful keeping routines and habits can become more important than what’s really important in life – family, friends, love and moments lived outside the box of the usual mindless navigation we tend to prefer as we go through our daily lives.

Habits and routines can prevent us from fully engaging our world and those we care about most.

Habits and routines can focus our attention on gettin’er done rather than getting to know ‘er or ‘im.

I’m a creature of habit – my mind needs those morning routines to reorient herself to taking care of business and beginning my work day.

But, I also need those spontaneous moments that jerk me from my creature comforts and intrude on my finely focused thoughts. They provide the “spark” in the sparkle that makes life fun and love worth it.

Bumblebee Nest

The blanket that had covered the Mom’s garden broccoli during the coldest days this past winter had been tossed on her patio with a half promise to attend to it soon.

Whatever “soon” meant….

A few weeks ago I picked it up to shake it out so I could take it home and toss it into the washing machine.

I was surprised to feel a vibration and something sticky and…fuzzy.  I quickly released my hold on the blanket and when it feel to the ground I saw something I’d never seen before – a bumblebee nest.

Not wishing to disturb or destroy it, I quickly wrapped the blanket back up and placed it back where it had been the past however many weeks.

Yesterday, in anticipation of our Memorial Day cookout, Mom decided to clean off the patio.  The first thing she decided to do was to remove the blanket – apparently forgetting about the bumblebee nest.

Thankfully, she wasn’t stung.

As she recounted her encounter with the bees I couldn’t help but smile and wish I had been present to watch it all play out.  “Bees went everywhere…a cloud of bees…all around me, on the door handle…everywhere!”

She had a can of wasp spray in her hand (the intent was to kill the wasp nests near the glider) and used it liberally – shooting long sprays of the stuff in various directions, but apparently, none on the nest.

When I arrived to finish what she had begun, I took the blanket and nest up to an open shed in the corner of her yard and placed it in a sheltered corner so they can come and go as they please.

If you’d like to learn more about bumblebees and their nests, check out Bumblebee Conservation.

 

Poppies

Red Poppies grow wild along the roadside near my house.  I walk past them daily.  Their large red blossoms are visible a block away.

May is the month Poppies bloom here.

May is also the month of Memorial Day.

Each time I see the red poppies, I remember my dad purchasing an artificial red poppy from roadside sellers on the way to church the Sunday before Memorial Day.

For more information on what inspired the red poppy to be a symbol of Memorial Day, read In Flander’s Field and a brief history on the purpose of red poppies in Memorial Day celebrations.

Lessons Relearned

The plum that fell from the tree looked ripe…smaller than purple plums one would find at the grocery, but every bit as purple.

It was the largest plum by far that I’d ever seen on this tree.  All I had seen were small and hard – similar to the fruit of a Bradford Pear tree. We all assumed the tree to be ornamental (richly purple leaves) since all the fruit we saw on it was inedible. (This was also true of the tree from which it originated.)

As I held the plum in my hand, I wondered if our assumptions about the tree were wrong.  I gazed up into the tree in search of other fruits of similar size. There, scattered about, were a few of similar size.

A surprise!

Apparently, birds and squirrels had robbed us of every edible plum well before they reached maturity.

I looked again at the plum in my hand. It looked perfect, albeit small.

Curiosity got the best of me and I sunk my teeth into its flesh.

The acrid taste was not what I expected and it lingered far longer than the allure of the fruit.

I tossed the plum to the ground and regretted my decision to taste it.

Lessons relearned:

  • Things aren’t always what they appear, or as they appear.
  • My judgment is not always accurate or wise.
  • Looks are often deceiving.
  • There is no “undo” in real life.
  • Wrong actions reap unpleasant consequences.
  • Desire leads us in directions wisdom would never take us.
  • Sometimes it’s just better NOT to have knowledge about some things.
  • Wrong choices can leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth.
  • Consequences last far longer than the initial attraction.

 

So, You’re One Year Old!

Happy Birthday to Granddaughter! She turns one today.

Instead of looking back on her birth and the past year, I’m looking with eyes focused on NOW with eager anticipation of her nows to come.

What’s she like?

Ah…a bit of Heaven on earth!

She’s a redheaded marvel with a smile that won’t stop.

A beautiful mix of Mom and of Dad, she reflects them perfectly – in looks, in attitude, in mannerisms.

It’s cute to watch and even cuter when I remember – payback is coming. 🙂  This is going to be good.

Perched on the brink of independence she’s ready to strike true fear in the hearts of her parents – and grandparents alike.

You know how it is – they go from no motion to slow motion to…well…now you see her and now you don’t.

She’s taking her first steps and will soon find that crawling is for babies.  A toddler she’ll be shortly.  There will be no stopping her.

Her little finger is powerful – she has everyone wrapped around it. And, her index finger…ah, with it she controls her daddy.  A firm look and a point in his direction wilts him.

What do you get the perfect granddaughter?  Good question – I scoured the toy store at length and the only thing I found that spoke to me was for ages 2+.

What was it? It was a…bulldozer.  Yes, it was.

What did I get her?  I can’t tell you. Her birthday party isn’t until tomorrow.  I don’t want to give away the surprise.  😉

 

Specificity, to be specific

A quick glance at today’s forecast became a several minute event when I read the following:

ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TODAY AND THIS EVENING OVER
ABOUT THE SOUTHWESTERN TWO THIRDS OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE...AND A FEW
OF THOSE STORMS COULD BECOME STRONG TO SEVERE...WITH GUSTY
WINDS...HAIL AND HEAVY DOWNPOURS.

It went on to say there was only a 30% chance of this developing.  And, from the statement above, it (apparently) will be centered in one particular area.

The problem is…I’m not sure where that one particular area is.

The problem is what turned a second’s glance into a multi-minute glare.”

The problem? The specificity of the advisory – that’s the problem.

“…the southwestern two thirds of middle Tennessee…” – where exactly IS that?

I know what part of middle Tennessee is included in the southwestern designation – but what’s up with the “two thirds”?

Specificity in forecasting and weather advisory is a good thing – it can provide fast, easy information that says YES this is for your area, or NO it’s not.

But…sometimes specificity can muddy the clarity of the matter.

If you’re in the southwestern two thirds of middle Tennessee…heads up.  If you’re in the remaining southwestern 1/3 (and I assume you know who you are)…no worries.

On Trimming Trees

“That plum tree needs to be trimmed…that low hanging side there needs to be cut out.”  That was Mom’s comment as we sat on her patio and surveyed her back yard.

“Okay,” I replied. “What else around here would you like me to cut back…cut down while I have the saw out?”

Mom made a short list of four things – plum tree, Japanese Magnolia, azalea in front of the house and the azalea near the driveway.

“Shouldn’t take long,” Mom noted.

I smiled.

As Dr. Phil is fond of saying, “This ain’t my first rodeo.”

Trimming trees and cutting back bushes is one of those things I’ve learned how (and how not) to do the hard way.

It always takes longer than you think it will and it pays to have two types of saws available. And, it’s a good idea to have someone within earshot of you. (Branches and limbs are notoriously fond of doing what they shouldn’t at the least opportune time.)

After the trimming was complete, Daughter commented: “I wouldn’t know how to trim a tree to make it look right.”

My comment – you just take out everything that shouldn’t be there.

Now, if I can just figure out a way to apply that to life….