Frozen Peas: Thousands Die Young

I have been feeling the pain these past few well-below-freezing April mornings knowing what our local vegetable farmers are suffering at the hand of winter that won’t give it up.

Thousands of tender sets and sprouts in long rows, the results of hours of back-bending work and tedium, lay limp and lifeless in the cold soil this morning–AGAIN.

Native plants have evolved in place and are more-or-less adapted to late frosts and freezes. Our food crops, OTOH, are bred for color or firmness of fruit or shipping tolerance or shelf life and their genes are more likely tropical by history. They don’t do winter.

IMG_1236troutLily300So this just to say that the native trout lilies are abundant and holding up well this very cool spring, and will be just fine as a species, even if a few get zapped. Their emergence and bloom range is wide. Riverstone’s peas all emerge at once, at get zapped by a freak freeze all on the same dark still morning.

Our farming practices are in many ways “un-natural” forcing upon the soil and seed a human mandate not programmed into the ordered being of the wild thing; we are resentful of events that are inconvenient truths and facts of life on and in the ground. Fortunes are lost in the gamble, yet we must eat and farmers must take those risks–for us, and for their livelihood. It is not an easy life.

The other reason to add this post this morning (even though I told myself I’d have too much to do otherwise and would go post-less) is that WordPress 3.9 is fresh out this morning, and I just had to try the drag and drop feature that will so streamline the workflow. So I give you a bonus image of our early blooming lily–from years past.

We have yet to see the first bloom. The margins of the Blue Ridge Parkway are thick with Trout Lily (or Yellow Dog Tooth Violet or Adder’s Tongue) in places where the Skunk Cabbage is well up and going strong. Images of that soon to come.

BTW, just learned Trout Lily LEAVES are edible, will have to explore that menu item! The edible bulbs are way too hard to dig up, and harm the population; a few leaves, not so much.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Love the trout lilies, probably 3 weeks away yet here. Reading other blogs as I have the past year I’ve become newly aware of how much earlier spring arrives ‘down south’. Makes me think of heading down to the smokies again in late April.