Thursday, March 4, 2010

Agricola Urbanus - Loving your wife by planting peas

Way back when I was one of the elders in a local church one of the questions we would ask one another in the elder meetings was how we were doing at loving our wives.  It was usually a pretty uncomfortable time.  We all agreed that we could do better.  Normally we acknowledged that we were doing some things for our wives but we also realized we were doing our acts of kindness partly to please ourselves, to keep the peace.  We were quite self-interested in our service to our wives.  I guess that's how it is most of the time.  We do kind things for other people and in fact we are looking forward to the reward we might reap.

There's a little bit of that, okay, rather a lot of that, in my decision that we will raise peas.  Don't get me wrong.  I like peas. I love fresh peas with brown butter.  I love fresh raw peas too.  They are one of the best treats I know of.  But when I think of a garden the size of the one we currently have, I realize that peas are completely impractical.  Why is that?  Peas can yield about twenty pounds in a hundred foot row.  With plants spaced about six inches, in our current fourteen foot by four foot space, we could reasonably expect to harvest about twenty-one pounds of peas, and that is if we have a great crop.  Twenty-one pounds?  Bring it on!  That would give us quite a feast, several feasts of fresh peas, in fact.

What's the problem with this logic?  Primarily the problem is that the peas will bear their crop over a period of about six weeks, with two or three pickings a week.  So having a great crop year we might pick nearly a pound at a time.  That isn't really so bad.  It's more than we'd probably normally eat during that time period as a family.  But it isn't that much more.  For our family this would be about a ten week supply of peas.  Yes, they would be delicious.  But there's some severe trouble with the practicality.  

By comparison, pole beans (string beans) tend to produce about 150 pounds in a hundred foot row.  Carrots tend to produce about100 pounds in a hundred foot row.  That's about a year's supply of carrots for our family, a real abundance of string beans.

Here's the dilemma.  Peas are so tasty.  Are they worth planting in a confined space?  They may be.  Especially if your wife happens to love peas intensely, it's worth it.  This is one of the reasons I want to get moved to a place with a sunny yard.  Our garden space is a little shady for peas to produce well.  And if I can come up with, say, three garden plots which are four feet by eight feet, devoted to peas, putting in a spring and a fall crop, we can have those nice homegrown peas all year.  Granted I could have other vegetables with far superior yields in that space, but there's a time for deciding you grow something simply because it is good and your wife loves it.

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