Child labour: it’s not all about sneaker factories in third world countries. My mother forced me to shell peas. Thousands of fresh peas, from thousands of pods. I did it under duress.
As a kid, I hated peas. On one occasion, I was told by my parents thatI couldn’t leave the table during a family dinner at my Aunt’s house until I’d eaten my peas. It was a battle of wills. I lost. But I sure showed them. I showed them all what semi-digested peas look like when power chucked back up.
Mum always grew climbing peas, staked with criss-crossed bracken fern sticks cut from the roadside. These days compact peas, such as Greenfeast and dwarf Earlicrop Massey, are more widely grown than that lanky old-timers like Alderman Tall. Sugar snaps or snow peas, those tender types eaten pod ‘n’ all, are even more popular, though even they need a shoulder to lean on.
Stuck for space? Train Progress or Rondo up trellis or wire netting fences, or rig up marvellously rustic tepees from manuka poles, trussed together with twine like a game of cat’s cradle.
Sow peas now. They do best in the cool days of spring. Come summer, powdery mildew hobbles the vines. Sow seeds directly where you want them to grow, unless your garden is frequented by felines, blackbirds, slugs or snails. Cats show no respect for freshly cultivated soil – when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go – and birds will scratch the seeds out as soon as they sprout. Slugs and snails just scoff the lot. Sow peas in trays first if need be.
My tastes have changed since I was a toddler. I now eat piles of freshly podded peas in spring, boiled briefly then drizzled with butter.  If I’m feeling flash, I’ll make like I’m on Masterchef and serve spring lamb on a verdant smear of minty pea puree. Finely chop half a small onion and sauté in a tablespoon of melted butter. Add a 500g packet of minted frozen peas and 100ml of hot chicken or vegetable stock. Simmer for a few minutes, till the peas are soft, then add a big handful of torn fresh mint leaves. Pour into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Season with sea salt and serve.  It’s the posh way to eat frozen peas while you wait for your own crop.

Self Sufficiently Lynda is published each week in Sunday magazine, in the Sunday Star-Times.