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by Mort Mather

As I looked at the colorful meal before me with bright green and orange shapes I asked Barbara, "Are the peas ours?" knowing the answer.

"The carrots and onions, too," she answered.

It is very satisfying as a gardener to have a meal largely from the garden in March. The snow peas had been frozen but the carrots came from the root cellar and the onions are stored in a bag on the kitchen floor. It is hard to believe that we will be planting peas within six weeks.

Last year we planted three kinds, regular popping peas, snow peas and snap peas. We think I got the snow peas and snap peas mixed up so that the flat pods that I froze should have been left to get fat. However, we find them very tasty if a bit fibrous. The variety was Super Snappy from Burpee. We don't know how they are mature as they are supposed to be because I harvested most of them early. There weren't enough later to make a meal.

For snow peas we planted a new variety from Johnny's call Corgi. We didn't form an opinion about them because we were tired of eating pea pods and I let them get too big for snow peas thinking they were the snap peas. I a m baffled as to how this could happen since I write down what I plant where with the date. I guess I just got the packets mixed up or myself turned around between the garden plot and the paper plot.

We have been planting one of two varieties of regular peas for over twenty years. After comparing varieties for several years we decided that Lincoln and Green Arrow are the sweetest peas, grow nicely and are fairly easy to harvest. Which we plant is determined by price and availability. We jump around between seed companies. Each company tries to get you to buy all your seeds from them by giving volume discounts and by charging for shipping and handling. It is more expensive to order from several different companies but different companies have different varieties. To beat the system we usually buy most of our seeds from one company one year and another the next. Most seeds can be saved for several years so we will enough of a seed that is exclusive with one company to last until we feel like ordering from them again.

This year we are really going the least expensive route, Fedco Seeds, PO Box 520, Waterville, ME 04903-0520. They used to be a cooperative and have maintained the low price ethic. The catalogue is newsprint but the descriptions are wonderful. They rate Lincoln the sweetest pea so we'll go with Lincoln this year. They also carry Green Arrow. I'm going to try an early pea, Coral, but just a very short row.

I'm going back to the old time favorites for edible podded peas. I haven't grown Dwarf Gray Sugar for many years. It was once a favorite, before we overdosed on snow peas one year. I remember enjoying the purple flowers on this fairly tall vine. I'm also going to take the advice of the Fedco catalogue and go back to the original Sugarsnap released in 1978. "A few years later it was voted the #1 all-time All-America selection. Sugarsnaps have become almost old hat now and it's easy to forget that they are one of the very best raw treats in the garden especially if you've sampled only the less tasty dwarf versions recently. Tall Sugarsnap vines grow 5-7' and need strong stakes. Pods reach superb sweetness only when completely filled. Caution: We found the new super Sugarsnap in our trial to be markedly inferior in all respects." I convinced.

I now have a page on the net where you can read back columns, order my book or send me a question which I will answer in this column, if possible.

İMarch 1, 1997

Mort is a husband and father. He authored a book, Gardening For Independence and was named Environmentalist of the Year by Down East Magazine in 1987. You can eat his organic produce at his son's southern Maine restaurant. His address is 802 Bald Hill Road, Wells, ME 04090.

Mort retains all rights to his columns. Anyone interested in using them can get the rights at a very reasonable rate.



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