I was rereading Robert Rodale’s editorial that appeared in the September 1976 issue of Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine (now called Organic Gardening). Our country was celebrating its 200th anniversary of independence and Mr. Rodale was commenting on virtues that stem from individual independence.
He spoke of the thrust of industry and government to develop the country in the fastest way possible regardless of the consequences. And he correctly made the observation that as a result we have tied ourselves together in a tight net of dependence.
Mr. Rodale said “You are not tied to others when you are independent. —You are able to support yourself, working with your own resources. The person who is truly independent will live well no matter what happens to the rest of society.”
There are few people now in our society who have achieved (or even have) the goal of being totally independent.
Nonetheless I think many desirable qualities can be obtained by striving for independence in as many areas as we are able and at every opportunity.
It is little bit by little bit (here a little, there a little) that we develop the attitude of independence. That attitude can provide — to use Mr. Rodale’s words — “the resilient reservoir of strength in case of hard times.”
How Peas enter into the Picture
Our meals seem incomplete without some kind of fresh green vegetable. And in winter that is a much harder thing to accomplish than when the garden is going full swing. (Of course, I’m not speaking of canned vegetables or big-agri-business frozen vegetables — or vegetables loaded with pesticides — which is the bulk of what’s available at big food stores. I speaking of fresh organic vegetables that really are food for the body.)
One of the things I’ve come to appreciate a lot in the winter months are my peas.
Yes, peas can be work intense — however, if you take the right approach you can easily get a great return on your investment each year and it will be one more thing you can do to become independent of the big food stores.
Guidelines that make having peas in winter one of the easiest thing you can do:
- Plant only what you can handle. (I plant 3 rows of peas.)
- Stagger the plantings to stagger the harvest. (You’ll probably still have a couple of days that you’ll get a large harvest from all your plantings.)
- Pick every day whenever possible or at least every other day to keep them coming.
- Shell immediately.
- Set aside some for dinner and freeze the rest immediately after shelling. (Peas loose sugar content every hour they’re off the vine – so for best quality use or freeze immediately.)
Peas used within a year can easily be frozen without blanching. They taste fresh-from-the-garden-sweet this way and also don’t stick together. You can take out what you need and put the others back in the freezer.
- When the harvest starts to dwindle leave the last peas on the vines until they’re dry. (But pick before the pod cracks and breaks open – spilling the peas on the ground.) Shell and place in a paper bag, tape closed, and store in a cool dry place until next year at planting time.
It’s a little thing – this business about peas. But every step you take towards independence will help build that reservoir of strength to see you through future times.
Organic gardening is easy, efficient, effective and it’s a lot healthier.
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