If you are relatively new to growing food a good place to start is legumes such as peas, beans and broad beans. They are one of the easiest and most satisfying edibles to grow, plus they feed the soil with nitrogen as they grow. It is win win for everyone – we get to eat, and the soil is feed too.
Healthy soil is integral to growing strong healthy plants. It has taken some time, however, after 8 years of gardening here I can confidently say our soil is healthy. It is dark in colour, holds moisture while not soggy and has some spring to it when squeezed. This has taken care and time to build up the garden beds with compost and mulch, and practicing crop rotation. Different plants utilise different nutrients in the soil therefore rotating crops – i.e. not planting tomatoes in the same spot as last year – helps the soil to recover and replenish. And growing legumes after a hungry feeder such as tomatoes is one way to bring the soil back to health.
This year we have a bumper crop of peas, probably the best I have ever grown. I sowed the seeds in early September which must have been just the right time as usually they are barely flowering in November. And water is important, usually spring is quite wet here but it has been drier than normal this year so regular watering once they start flowering. It’s early November and this years crops is 2 meters tall and dripping with large pea pods.
The kids are very happy, one of their favourite pastimes at present is to harvest a handful of peas and sit on the garden steps podding and popping the little sweet peas into their mouths. This is how most of our peas are eaten, but a little extra rain this last week and a few warm days [plus some diversion tactics involving frozen banana ice cream], and I managed to harvest enough to make a fresh pea dip…
Last year I shared a post about how I grow peas and beans by direct sowing them into garden beds. You can read about it HERE.
This fabulous dip is creamy while light with a hint of mint for a refreshing taste. It can easily be made dairy-free, simply omit the goat cheese, use a whole avocado and add an extra pinch of salt. Give it go, you will love it. Freshly podded broad beans can also be used.
1 cup freshly podded peas or frozen peas
1/2 perfectly ripe avocado
4 tablespoons soft goat cheese or feta [or extra 1/2 avocado for dairy free]
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
sprig of fresh mint
salt and cracked pepper to taste
- Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth and creamy. Check seasoning and eat immediately with crackers or vegetable sticks for dipping.
The crackers in the photos are my Four-seed Crackers find the recipe HERE.