We sowed the seeds for the sugar snap peas at a spacing of 2” with the assumption that not all of them would germinate and that some would grow less vigorously than others.  Starting with more plants than we need was a hedge against the vagaries, uncertainties and plain old bad luck that can affect a garden.  After more than three weeks, however, it appears that all of the seeds have taken root and are developing robustly.  The seedlings have almost but not quite extended above the top of the planter (which I am thankful for because we still need to cover it at night) and it is time to thin them out.

We started in the middle of one row with what looked to be the smallest sprout.  I gave it a tug and was surprised at how much resistance it put up.  In what seems to me a very short time, the pea plants have already developed extensive root systems which firmly connect them to the soil.  The remnants of the seeds—which are the size of, well, a pea—provide additional positive anchorage.  As we continued to pull out the pea shoots, many of them broke off at the stem leaving their roots behind.  At least we didn’t have to worry about disturbing the roots of the sprouts we left to grow to maturity (about a third of the total, spaced at approximately 6”).

While we were at it, we made another pass at the radishes and beets.  The oldest radishes—planted almost four weeks ago—now sport multiple pairs of leaves and have reached a height of about two inches.  Based on the seed packet information, they are a week beyond maturity; in reality, they are nowhere near it.  Looking at the sprouts we culled, though, we were reassured to see a pink-hued swelling at the juncture of the leaves and roots that will eventually become the radish itself (or would, if we hadn’t plucked them out of the ground).  We assume that the cold weather has significantly slowed the progress of everything in the garden but are pleased that it has not brought it to a standstill.

The radish and beet sprouts we pulled were just enough to make a mini-salad appetizer for our evening meal.  On the other hand, the pea shoots—much larger in size and quantity than the radishes and beets—made for a more substantial side dish.  Rachel sautéed them with a little butter to serve along with grilled steaks.  They had the pleasing mouthfeel of chard and other leafy greens but they did not cook down as much.  Best of all, they had the unmistakable flavor of fresh peas.  They were delicious and eminently satisfying.

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