Q: I’m looking for “cabbage peas.” My grandparents used to purchase them at feed & seed stores in south Georgia. They were plentiful in the 40s, 50s and 60s, but now I cannot find them. People I ask remember them, but no one knows where to get any. They are a type of field pea/Southern pea that is very tasty, green with a darker green eye and small like a Lady pea. The plants grew about waist high. Can you help me?
A: We are unfamiliar with cabbage peas but did some checking. You are not the only person looking for them. We found others online also looking but not having any luck.
We could not find any articles about them in the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin. We could not find them listed in any seed catalogs, including ones that specialize in old vegetable varieties. We contacted our friends at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, a company that offers a lot of old and “heirloom” vegetable varieties and is dedicated to preserving them. They hadn’t heard of cabbage peas but checked the Seed Savers Exchange's yearbook archives for the last 30 years and could not find them there, at least under that name. Cabbage peas also were not on the list of USDA Southern pea introductions, but that could be because they probably are an old variety that was not developed by a university or commercial breeder.
So, I am afraid we have struck out. If anyone knows a source of cabbage peas or more information about them, please write Arty Schronce, 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Room 128, Georgia Dept. of Agriculture, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other gardeners want to grow and preserve this variety, and perhaps some seed companies and farmers do as well.
Q: There is a 9-foot tall tree with white flowers in my woods. It blooms in the spring. I want to move it to my yard. When and how do I do this?
A: We advise against digging up the tree and moving it. Besides being difficult to move due to its size, there is also a high likelihood of severely damaging its root system and not getting enough roots for it to survive. A tree that sprouted and has been growing in the woods may have a very widespread and erratic root system.
We suggest you take a branch with leaves to a local nursery or garden center or to your county Cooperative Extension office for identification. Take along a photograph of the entire tree as well. If you have photographs of the tree’s blooms, they will be even better to help identify it. Once you have identified the tree, buy one at the nursery or garden center and plant it instead. It will be more likely to survive and you will be less likely to injure your back. A small tree with an undamaged root system will catch up to or surpass the size of the tree in the woods in less time than you think. Let the beautiful white tree continue to grow in the woods where Mother Nature planted it.
Q: I have a bushel of Roma tomatoes I want to use to make soup. I feel like I lose too much of the meat when I peel them with a knife. Someone said I could use boiling water to peel them but I don’t know exactly how to do this. Can you help?
A: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the tomatoes two at a time in the pot for 11 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon or strainer and drop them immediately into a large pot or bowl of ice water. When the tomatoes have cooled, it will be easy to peel away the skin without removing the underlying flesh.
Depending on the size and type of tomatoes, you may have to vary the boiling time. However, the main thing to remember is that you do not wish to cook the tomatoes in the boiling water.
Q: Do all bell peppers start out green?
A: Yes. Depending on the variety of the bell pepper, it will turn red, orange, yellow, chocolate, purple or ivory as it ripens. Hot peppers also start out green.
Ripe peppers have a different, usually sweeter and less pungent, flavor than the green ones. Ripe peppers are usually more expensive than green ones because the farmer has to invest more time in growing them.
Q: How long is Georgia peach season?
A: Some varieties from south Georgia can become available as early as May. The Georgia peach season extends through August and even into early September thanks to late varieties and Georgia’s geography and topography. Trees in north Georgia and at higher elevations will bloom and bear later than their south Georgia counterparts and those at lower elevations.
Georgia peaches are available at grocery stores, farmers markets and direct from farms. At the farms and farmers markets you may be able to find out the name of the variety of the peaches you are buying as well as find some varieties that are not available in stores. Don’t be afraid to try a different one this year.
Consider buying some extra peaches to dry, freeze or to make jellies and jams so that you enjoy some peachy goodness after the fresh peach season is over.
Q: Do you have a recipe for peach iced tea? I found one last year but cannot find it now.
A: We’re happy to help. Here is a recipe from our home economist:
Georgia Sweet Peach Tea
7 tea bags, regular size
1 quart water
6 cups ice cubes
3 Georgia peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
½ cup sugar or to taste
1 Georgia peach pitted and sliced
Bring water to a boil. Place tea bags in a heatproof container and add boiling water. Let steep for 8 minutes. Place 4 cups of ice in pitcher and pour in tea. Place diced peaches and sugar in a blender and puree until smooth. Stir the pureed peaches in tea. Serve with remaining ice in glasses. Garnish with peach slices.
Q: When is the Georgia Department of Agriculture holding its next horse auction?
A: The next auction of horses restored to health by the department’s rehabilitation program will be Saturday, August 10, 2013, at the Mansfield Impound Barn at 2834 Marben Farm Rd., Mansfield, Georgia 30055. The horses may be inspected at the facility beginning at 10:00 a.m. The sale will start at 11:00 a.m.
Twelve horses are expected to be ready for auction. Visit the Georgia Department of Agriculture website for descriptions. Photos will be posted when available. Proceeds from the sale go to help fund the department’s impound and rehabilitation program. Contact our Companion Animal-Equine Section with any questions at 404-656-3713.
Q: What causes catfaced tomatoes?
A: Catfaced tomatoes are malformed with leathery scars, bulges or cavities at the blossom end of the fruit. These cavities can extend deep into the flesh. The condition gets its name because the fruit can look like a cat’s face.
The causes of catface or catfacing are not definitely known. Cold temperatures during blooming or fruit set may be responsible. Catfacing is more common on the fruit that are formed first and on large-fruited tomato varieties. Some varieties are particularly prone to catface and should be avoided if this has been a problem in the past. One elderly farmer told us that catfacing is more common during dry periods when there is not enough rain to wash off the bloom from the developing fruit after pollination has occurred, but we do not know if anyone has tested his observation.
Catfacing does not affect the flavor of the tomato.
Q. What causes my cucumbers to be sheepnosed and shaped like gourds?
A. Improper pollination due to lack of insects or adverse weather conditions can cause misshapen cucumbers and melons. Lots of rain and cool temperatures can hamper the activity of pollinating insects. High temperatures can also kill pollen. Lack of moisture during development can also misshape fruit. If you are applying any insecticides, make sure you are applying them properly and not killing the bees and other pollinating insects. We need these insect allies for all our flowering crops!
Q: What batter is best for frying squash? Can pattypan squash be fried like yellow squash?
A: Pattypan or scalloped squash can be sliced and fried like yellow squash, zucchini and other summer squashes.
You could fill a book with all the variations on frying squash. Here are some ideas that may help you:
To coat the squash before frying, some people slice it (thin as a potato chip or thick as a sliver dollar – your preference) and dredge it in flour, corn meal or a mixture of both. Some people dip the slices in buttermilk or sweet milk before dredging. Some people make a batter of flour with milk, buttermilk or beer and coat the slices with it. They may then dredge the coated slices with flour or corn meal. Some people mix an egg diluted with two tablespoons of water, coat the slices with it and dredge them in flour, corn meal or fine bread crumbs. Some people use rice flour instead of wheat flour.
After your squash slices are coated, heat ¼ to ½ inch of cooking oil (olive or canola are two possible options) in a heavy skillet. When the oil is hot, start dropping the coated squash slices into the oil one at a time so they don’t stick together. Remove them from the oil when they are golden brown and let them drain onto paper towels. Serve them warm with salt and pepper.
There is no best batter or best way to fry squash. Fortunately, Georgia Grown summer squash are plentiful and inexpensive. They are easy to fry, and the results are almost always tasty. Experiment and find your own special way of handling this summertime favorite.
Arty Schronce writes this weekly question-and-answer column that is sent to newspapers and media outlets on Thursdays throughout the state. The column addresses questions about agriculture and questions about the services and products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. If you have a question, please email us at email@example.com. For more information, contact Arty Schronce at 404-656-3656.