Greenpoint: Pea shoots an easy way to get jump on fresh greens

I wait so long for flowers that I can’t get enough of them
Better late than never: Daffodils on the windowsill.
Better late than never: Daffodils on the windowsill.

A colleague saw the daffodils on my desk last week. “How nice! You still have some blooming?”

Actually those were my first blooms. Up here in the cold lands, our first daffodils blossomed in the first week of May and the late ones will be along after the rest of you are done with your irises.

I wait so long for flowers that I can’t get enough of them. There’s the vase at work, another on the kitchen table, two on the windowsill near the sink, mixed in with forsythia, which is also still in bloom. Lilacs? Maybe in June.

A cousin in North Carolina has full-sized cabbages in her vegetable garden. Up here, we are happy that our peas have emerged, a long row of tiny green sprouts.

With all the rain, it took almost three weeks for them to pop out.

If you can’t wait for fresh food from your gardens, there’s a quick way to get some greens: pea shoots.

You can buy a bag of dried whole peas in the grocery store, generally in the same place as the dried beans and split peas. Soak a couple of cups of peas overnight, then plant them in a wide, shallow planter or box. I save my clementine boxes for this — they are just the right size and already have holes on the bottom.

Put a layer of soil, sprinkle the soaked peas on top — they can be quite close together, because you aren’t trying to grow full plants. Then add a thin layer of soil on top of that. Keep the whole thing damp.

I do this inside, but you can bring the box outside, too, as long as you keep it away from chickens, goats, marauding crows, etc. The peas will sprout in about a week, and in another two or three weeks you’ll have a thick mass of greens, 3 to 4 inches high.

Harvest the whole boxful and start again. I’ve gotten a second growth if I cut the shoots above the first true leaves on the plants.

You can eat them fresh or steamed, sautéed with butter and garlic, stir-fried with ginger and dried red pepper. Or however you like your greens. They’re delicious, and good for you too — with beta carotene and C and B vitamins.

The best thing is they are a quick and easy way to get fresh greens — before your garden is producing or even if you have no intention of having a garden.

Grow them on your windowsill, on your patio, on the table on your deck, or in your window boxes. Peas don’t like heat, so grow a few successions now, while you are waiting for real peas to be ready, then again in the fall.

Now that our garden peas are up, it’s time to get the potatoes and corn in. The main garden planting — tomatoes, squash, peppers and anything else that can’t take a frost — won’t happen up here until Memorial Day.

But I can get my spring bulbs in now — dahlias and gladiolas, and that mystery bag I picked up at the grocery store a few weeks ago. They’ll be late, just like all the flowers around here. But one way or another, I’ll keep my vases full all summer.

Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on May 26 Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

Categories: Life and Arts

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