In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
June, 2012
Regional Report

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A June morning's harvest of cabbage, peas, kale leaves, and kale florets from my Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania garden.

Happiness is...

An early June morning. A sunny yet chilly 53 degrees. Chickadees and robins singing across the backyard. I slip into my soft green bathrobe and garden clogs. I reach for an aluminum bowl. Cool-weather vegetables are at peak or nearly ready to eat.

Peas are ripe for picking. Dew moistens my toes. Sugar Snap pea pods on tall vines are easy to spot and snip off. Plump Sweet Savor pea pods show they're ready for shelling. A few early-planted sugar peas are past prime. They taste starchy and hard. Other pods are small and tender off the vines. Compact, bushy Oregon Sugar Pod II peas and pods are sweet and tender too.

One of two cabbages from last fall is ready to harvest. My first garden-grown cabbage ever! Removing the outside, holey leaves, I spot the culprits -- a slug family of one slimy large brown adult and a half-dozen small, gray, roly-poly young ones. A cabbage moth has deposited a green larvae protected in an opaque fiber cocoon.

Even minus several leaves, the dense cabbage head is the size of a large cantaloupe. Enough for a generous Thai salad with a chiffonade of cabbage and grated carrots dressed in rice wine with a splash of sesame oil. Chopped peanuts and toasted sesame seeds on top. The quarter head left will make another dish.

I clip tender, mild-tasting, green/purple kale florets, also from last fall's planting. The Blue Curled Scotch Kale has been resprouting flowers for at least two months, long after I cut off the thick, main stalk with hefty leaves.

My friend Suz wants to try the dark green, crinkly Lucinato kale (aka black kale, dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale). I snip off the largest leaves of this winter-sown, spring-planted crop.

That's enough early morning veggie gardening. Time for an English muffin and green tea before leaving to tend other people's gardens.

At home on weekends and evenings, I nibble while gardening, digging out violets, planting Charentais heirloom melon seedlings, sowing the last packet of Emerite pole filet beans.

For a peppery kick, I snap off and sample spicy mustard greens or kale florets.

For a longer lasting snack, I look to the peas -- garden (English), snow, and sugar snap. Might the Sweet Savor garden peas be sweeter if cooked, I wonder - though after I've shelled and eaten raw the bowlful just picked. Not enough to make a meal. Better to enjoy them fresh out of hand.

The Oregon Sugar Pods planted in late February almost didn't survive. One day the plants looked flush and growing. Several afternoons later, they were much shorter, their shoots and leaves ragged. I grumbled, wondering aloud what happened. From over the fence, Farmer Mel mentioned he'd had the same problem, though he no longer grows peas. Birds, he said. He'd noticed them afternoons in my garden.

Hmmm. Am I going to let birds ruin my very first ever planting of peas? No way. I opted for the simplest Internet suggestion -- aluminum foil strips wrapped around fishing line strung high and low, from pea stake to pea stake. The strips waved in the wind. Goodbye birds!

They're back now, of course. After I weed, robins land and eye the newly turned soil. Their deft arrival always makes me wonder how they know so quickly there are easy-to-find wigglers and grubs in just that patch of the garden.


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