Here it is mid-June and we’re finally getting snow and snap peas in the backyard. They’re wonderfully sweet and crisp, like something a novelist might think up. They’re also nearly two months late — what a trial the peas were in the garden this spring. An early round of seeds got plucked up by birds, so I sprouted a second batch on a damp towel and nursed seedlings along in indoor trays. Thanks to persistent cold, the plants didn’t grow for months. It was enough to trigger thoughts such as: why not just buy?

Thus far the harvest is tiny not least because I’m picking the pods daily, hoping to keep the vines producing. In the kitchen that means using them in ways that seem gratuitous, as crunchy green snacks, sliced into salads, or tossed into a stir fry. I’d love to make a pea and herb risotto, but seeing as it’s almost July I’m not optimistic we’ll get enough of a real crop.

The somewhat disappointing experience with winter and spring vegetables has made me rethink my laissez-faire approach to vegetable growing. I’m definitely a convert to the religion of composting, which delivers dramatic results, but modifiers like row covers and water warmers have always felt like overkill. If we want to eat from the garden most of the year, maybe I ought to consider lending the plants a little more assistance.

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