by Velva Rowell
Mine grows amazingly well despite my complete lack of gardening skills. I have several varieties of lettuce, herbs, broccoli, and strawberries. My upside-down tomato planter is flourishing and I anticipate many salads from tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers that are growing well, but haven’t set fruit yet.
I have to say though, that I am happiest about the peas. Those lovely English peas that you have to shell before you can cook and eat them are one of my favorite vegetables. Not entirely because I really like peas, but also because I go into a time warp every time I pick and shell them for dinner. As I stand over the sink, diligently shelling peas as the hounds look on hoping that a shell or two will hit the floor, I travel to my grandmother’s house in Oregon.
My grandmother (also named Velva) was a farmer’s daughter from North Dakota who had a beautiful large garden when I was in elementary school. I and my brother would travel to her house either together or separately for a week or so every month of the summer. Her house was on a hill just outside of the town of Coos Bay, and she had an acre there that had a clearing that was just the right size for the house, yard and driveway with an uphill slope on one side and a downhill slope on the other. The garden was on the downhill slope near the blueberry bushes, and one of my favorite challenges was to pick vegetables and weed the garden without sliding downhill.
One of my chores at grandma’s house was to pick the vegetables for supper every day. Sometimes I would pick salad; tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. Sometimes my harvest would include carrots or corn. But, for a very brief time each year, the harvest would be peas. I would pick enough for dinner and try to fight the impulse to sneak a pod or two of the candy-like vegetables as I picked. It was harder to keep from sneaking peas than it was to keep from sneaking blackberries, blueberries and raspberries when my chore was to pick berries for jam or cobbler.
Here in the present, I’m enjoying the pleasures of eating seasonal vegetables. With our long growing season, I anticipate the opportunity to serve salads from our garden for a few more months, and I’ve been looking online to learn more about winter vegetables so that I can continue this good habit I’m trying to develop.
My grandmother passed away in December of 2005, and I’m doing my best to keep her memory green in my heart. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been devoting energy to eating from our garden as often as possible. Peas are in season now, and I planted several so I can enjoy a trip down memory lane whenever I like. I still feel a little guilty when I sneak a pod or two while I’m shelling, but the end result is always worth the effort.