02 February 2009

Growing your own Dry Peas

Eating seasonally in the North is quite easy in the late-summer, fall and early-winter because of the variety of foods available. Late Cole crops can be harvested into December, and crops like sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and some varieties of zucchini can be stored into January. But come February, the storage crops are down to potatoes, roots, onions, winter squash, winter cabbage, and garlic. By April, most of these crops have begun to sprout, or go soft. Anticipating this, I rely heavily on the storage crops in the winter months, and save the bulk of our grains and dry pulse crops for late winter and spring.

Come early-spring, we reintroduce fresh greens and fresh herbs to our diet, but by May and June, the root cellar is bare, and the main food crops are just beginning to provide by July. So eating seasonally during these months means relying on canned or frozen food and dry goods.

In 2007, we had a bumper crop of shelling peas, so I let the last harvest go to maturity, hoping that I would have some dry peas, along with my seed. I harvested about 3 lbs of dry peas off that late crop, and after sorting out the best of them for seed, I tried some in a pot. I soaked them like chickpeas, they were just about the same size, but wrinkly, because they are a shelling variety and not a drying variety. They plumped up in the soak, and took about 4 hours to cook all the way through. They were tasty, but did not cook down to a puree like split peas usually do. So I decided to try a variety specifically for drying.

In 2008 garden I had a packet of St. Hubert Drying Pea seeds, and planted out a 30' double row. From this I was able to harvest 6 1/4 lbs of gorgeous smooth round peas. They were quite easy to grow, considering I only have to harvest once, at the end of the season. I trellised them, and they were quite productive, with 3" pods, each with 6-9 peas. The pods dried out well on the vine, earlier than the dry beans, and not many of them popped open before I harvested. I pulled up the vines all together, and brought them into a shed to pick and shell.

The true test was in the kitchen. I soaked them overnight, and they cooked down to a beautiful puree in 2 1/2 to 3 hours. They had a delicious, smooth texture, and taste great with sweet storage carrots and pungent onions. Pea soup makes a great spring food, not as heavy as potatoes, but rich in protein for heavy spring garden work.


Chiot's Run said...

I so love split pea soup. It's so delicious and simple. I usually use 2 strips of bacon and an onion, add the peas and some salt & pepper and cook until preferred consistency (which is pureed like yours). YUM YUM!

I may try to grow some this year.

Mar said...

What was your yield for the number you planted?

Mar said...

Oopsy--just read again and saw my answer!

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Chiot's mmmm, the bacon is a nice additon, no pork this year here, just chicken and beef. I've been using some chicken stock instead, for flavor.

Mar, it's about the same as dry beans, 1lb for 10 feet. And this is in our short summer, 100-120 days frost free, so if you have longer season, expect a higher yield.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I grew 24 sq ft of peas this year and dried them and only got about a cup and a half of dried peas. the plants came in well and were vigorous and productive. At least they looked that way. Of course, this is the guy who planted 11 scarlet runner beans and harvested exactly 5 beans, so what do I know?

The legume crops are seriously restricted this year. I just can't seem to harvest enough to make it worth it.

Chicago Mike

Anonymous said...

You've convinced me. Where did you get the seed?

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Chicago Mike, have you inocculated your ground for legume crops? That's what it sounds like to me, if your ground is not inocculated, the plants will grow perfectly well, but they will not yield fruit. Also, I have always read of Scarlet Runners as more of a decorative crop, for their flowers, and not for their fruits. Did you by chance grow Sweet Peas instead of shelling peas? My sister made that mistake one year. Beyond that, youve got me stumped!

Eva, here's the link to the seed company I ordered from http://www.prseeds.ca/
But you may also want to pay a visit to one of the websites on my sidebar called Kusa Seed Society.