Years ago, when I was living in Knoxville, Tennessee, I arrived at the office the Monday after February 14 to be greeted with the friendly question, “So did y’all get your peas in this weekend?”
Um – Peas? In February?
Kimmy, our department secretary, whose mother raised bees in a garden so productive people whispered about it in awe, nodded: “Mama always plants her peas on Valentine’s Day.” She turned to Penny, our other department secretary. “Penny, when does Buddy plant his peas?” Penny nodded firmly: “Buddy always plants his peas on Valentine’s day. Put ‘em in this weekend. Y’all are late!”
I didn’t know a whole lot about gardening at the time but I knew better than to argue with Buddy and Kimmy’s mama: I went right home after work and planted peas and ever since I’ve tried to get my peas in on Valentine’s day. I don’t know why but it seems to work as well in northern California as it did in Tennessee.
This year Valentine’s day was a Tuesday so I didn’t hit the exact day but I came pretty close. I planted “shelly peas” (perhaps obviously, this is a term for the kind of peas you shell versus the kind where you eat the whole pod – I learned that in Tennessee too, along with some great expressions like “That dog don’t hunt”). I almost bought a folding teepee at the nursery and then I stopped myself: $12 for a bought teepee when I’ve got all kinds of stuff lying around? What kind of fun is that?