Hints of Things to Come

Our First Picolo Provencal Peas    

Our First Picolo Provenzale Peas

Friday morning–early–I was sitting in downtown Palo Alto in a Board meeting, in clean clothes with no visible dirt on me. But when someone there asked me what was good with me, I excitedly blurted out to the entire room, “We have peas!” Evidently, you can take the girl out of the garden, but…

These are the only peas that have survived from this year’s Pea Trial, the Pisello Nano Picolo Provenzale. I’ve been hunting for more seed for this variety and finally found it from Seeds from Italy. They are the U.S. distributor for Franchi Sementi spa of Bergamo, Italy, seedsmen since 1783. 1783, wow, I like the sound of that.

My mother-in-law comes from an Italian family and has liked other varieties of their seeds. I got some of the small Picolo Provenzale peas and also some of the Telefono variety which grow to 5-6′. 

Italian Winter Squash Sampler

Italian Winter Squash Sampler

I couldn’t help also ordering their collection of Winter Squash. They send you ten different varieties–and a bottle gourd–so we will be trying Padana, Marina di Chioggia, Quintale, Piena di Napoli, Tromba d’Albenga, Serpente di Sicilia, and four or five others. Just listen to the description for the Marina di Chioggia, “Very old variety from near Venice. 4-5 pound round fruit, grey/green knobby skin with sweet orange flesh. Essential for great soup, gnocci, roasting. Excellent keeper. 105 days.” Ahhh, those Italians!

The Pea Index

The Pea Index

But right now the garden is starting to show us a few more hints of things to come. The peas that got me all excited in the first place are growing pretty much flat until they are about the size of my index finger and then they start to round out some as the peas inside develop.

The January planting is roughly a square foot of pea plants that are flowering and developing peas at a rapid pace now that the weather has warmed some. They still have plenty of cool nights, which they supposedly like. I hope so, last night it got down to 39 and there was actually a light frost on the grass this morning when I went out. At this point, before a single pea has been eaten, I have to say that our January planting plan really has ended up getting us ahead of things, even if the peas got eaten by everything and developed very slowly. There are no flowers yet on the February planted patch yet.

Bush Beans Emerging from Flowers

Bush Beans Emerging from Flowers

We do have tiny beans growing though. The Bush Beans Roc D’Or Yellow Wax that are growing in a container on the back patio, where it is protected and warm, are flowering and slender beans have started to form.

I had expected two beans to form from each of the flowers but these are forming a single bean, which is still green but will turn a bright yellow as they mature. I love the way they look with the remains of the flower they formed from still stuck to their tips. These plants were also an early test that has turned out to be a good idea. These Bush Beans were sprouted inside under lights and planted as starts alongside seeds of the same variety that were put in at the same time these plants were hardened off. The beans growing from seed are doing well, but they don’t have flowers yet and are clearly behind the beans started indoors.

Even with starting things early, there isn’t much to eat in the garden right now. For lunch I made Pickled Radish salad with some of our delicious celery thrown in for good measure. I sliced the celery as thinly as possible, just like the radish, and pickled them together in the sea salt and sugar. Then I combined the radish tops and celery leaves, chopped them loosely and wilted them with a bit of water before tossing the radish and celery pickles with the dressing and the greens.

Maybe by next week I’ll be able to serve it with some fresh peas!

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