3×5 feet of peas planted in early April. The result? Three servings of peas. I kid you not. Peas might be wiser to grow vertically up an existing fence leaving precious ground space for other veggies. I used tomato cages for them to grow up on and it worked wonders and they looked great. I harvested a lot it seemed. Once I got through shelling them all, I was left with a delicious one time only (“Better eat that last pea; do you know what I went through to put that on your plate?!) side dish.
I miss peas in January. (Hell, I miss all vegetables in January!) I wanted to make sure that this year I canned more than four jars (which was a lot of work to put up last year!). So I ordered two cases from my favorite farm and while we sat at the Sunday farmers market Doug and I shelled peas. Doug sure made a lot of racket about having to do it. I promised him that once the boxes were done, we didn’t have to do it again for a whole year! (I think I had a similar conversation with my son when he was little.) But a trooper Doug was and we got through an entire box before packing up and heading home.
My friend, Jen, came over to help can them. We tried in vain to get her young daughter to shell the rest of the other box, but she said sweetly, “No, thanks!” I got to the rest of that box that evening but half of it had gone unappetizingly gooey. In all, nineteen pints of delicious (better eat every last one) peas were put up.
With Jen’s and her daughter’s help, we made quick work of the half a case of apricots and came up with nine jars of cinnamon, ginger, honey apricots for winter enjoyment.
Then they left and I had to finish everything else myself. It got me wondering about how our revered prior generations achieved such incredible feats. Almost all my work is within four months. All growing, harvesting, canning, farmers markets, and everything else that comes up happens in the summer! I have come to the conclusion that these women were just awesome. They couldn’t have been too much different than myself though; how did they get so much done? I do not have eight willing children to help me. And then it dawned on me. What they had was other ladies! Other like-minded (how the heck are we going to get all this put up by September?) friends and neighbors that needed to get the same stuff done.
Just seeing how much Jen and I and a young girl could do in a matter of minutes to those apricots made me think what ten determined women could do packed in a kitchen (or better yet, an outdoor kitchen!) with vegetables and fruits. Ten of us could fly through peas and apricots, sauerkraut and jams and jellies so fast the men would want to take respite in the fields!
So friends, there is power in numbers. Particularly if one does not want to be reliant on grocery stores and large farm whims. If you want fresh food, you best put it up now. If you are short on time, gather a bunch of like-minded gals and get to work! In one day you could fill several shelves. You could also get caught up on local gossip, giggle like it was grade school, and have the time of your life with girlfriends. Rest in the evening with a cool glass of lemonade to celebrate.