One of the joys of living in the country is the opportunity for ridiculous levels of frugality. One of my favourite activities is pea gleaning. Pea harvesting around here is done at industrial strength; visitors are surprised when at 3.00am the viners, lorries, drivers etc pitch up with their lights on and start trundling up and down the fields, because the moment is right. The peas are carted off to be processed all within minutes of picking.
So where does gleaning come in and is it worth it? Birdseye and others could argue that the peas they sell in the shops are at optimum condition and they are probably right; but the whole something for nothing, picking, shelling, blanching and freezing for yourself makes it worthwhile. After the pea team have left the field it is left looking brown and forlorn, with little sign of life. However, adjusting the eye to see the areas where peas might have been left untouched, it is possible to see tracks where plants have fallen into the grooves where tractors passed earlier in the season, or edges of the field where the harvesters can not quite reach. It is backbreaking and best done in the early morning or evening on hot days and certainly within 12 hours of the pea team leaving. The resultant haul was one large canvas bag full, four hours shelling resulted in about four and a half pounds of peas, which are now blanched and in the freezer. The pods went to the hens, they enjoy picking at them, nothing is wasted. Is it worth it; of course it is, all part of life, a bit of fun and a few cheap eats even if it is quite a lot of effort.