A few weeks ago, I declared my second planting of shell peas a failure. And true to form, Mother Nature wasted no time in letting me know how wrong I was. Not a day after publishing the column, I went to my garden to find flowers all over the plants, which had grown even taller and lusher.
Perhaps I spoke too soon?
With many days in the 50s and 60s, some rain, and nights that haven’t been too cold, those shell peas have kept growing. The stems are well formed, perhaps even sturdier than the spring planting I did. They are covered in leaves and so many flowers. I’ve even spotted a handful of peapods (without developed peas) on the branches.
Perhaps we might have a second pea harvest after all?
I have been watching the weather with pointed interest. While peas can weather a light frost, I’ve read that a hard frost might not be so good for them — causing deformed pods and the death of flowers.
What exactly is a hard frost? I turned to the Old Farmer’s Almanac for help answering that question. “A hard freeze is a period of at least four consecutive hours of air temperatures that are below 28 degrees Fahrenheit,” according to the Almanac.
The National Weather Service predicts that Saturday night might fall to 31 degrees Fahrenheit, but otherwise we’ll have highs in the 50s and lows in the 40s for the next few days as well as more rain.
Will my shell peas — Perfection 326 Shell Peas from Fedco, in case you’re wondering — produce some peas? I’ll be watching and hoping.
Really, this has become a point of curiosity for me. When I accepted that the second planting would not produce, I was OK with it. I will still be OK with it if these flowers and pods don’t result in a harvest. If it does in fact produce, though, it will be a wonderful bonus harvest.
I will be watching, waiting and keeping my fingers crossed that Mother Nature isn’t quite done reminding me that ultimately the growing season is up to her. And should those peas materialize, I look forward to digging into a Fresh Pea Risotto in her honor.
Fresh Pea and Basil Risotto
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
½ cup white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, warmed
½ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (parmesan)
1 cup fresh shelled peas
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the rice and toast for 1 minute.
2. Pour the white wine into the Dutch oven and stir to combine. Let cook until the moisture is absorbed. Add the chicken stock one ladle at a time, allowing it to fully absorb before adding more. This should take about 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, boil the peas for 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Drain immediately and set aside.
4. Once all the stock has been added to the rice mixture, remove from heat and stir in the parmigiano reggiano (parmesan) cheese. When the cheese is fully combined, stir in the peas and basil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
5. Serve immediately.