By Kendra Murray.

For a great many people, both Irish and not-so-Irish, Saint Patrick’s Day means two things:

  1. Boiled dinner (corned beef and cabbage)
  2. Beer

However, for numerous backyard homesteaders and farmers, it means a third thing: peas! These peas won’t be making it into your St. Paddy’s feast, though. Sowing peas on St. Patrick’s Day is an old American (not Irish) tradition, but the first peas won’t be ripe until long after the St. Paddy’s Day festivities. Still, getting your seeds in the ground on this day is thought to bring good luck and a bountiful crop. It just has to be done right.

As we all know, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Or at least, it’s supposed to. Although March 19th is the official start of spring in the US, the month is often cold and snowy. The ground is likely to be frozen and buried under snow, which is not ideal. If you do want to plant peas in March, it’s very important to germinate the seeds before getting them into the ground, to give them their best chance at thriving under these adverse conditions. Start your seeds indoors a week or two prior to St. Paddy’s Day. If it’s a year like 2015 (110 inches of snow as of March 31st) and the ground is still covered, keep your seedlings indoors for a little longer, but take care not to wait too long—peas do not like heat!

After getting your hands dirty gardening, wash up, and get ready for a homemade, traditional Irish dinner. Let’s face it; the pubs are packed, it’s cold out, and you’re looking for hearty comfort food—which is what most Irish cuisine is. If you do venture out, many local eateries will be serving up corned beef and cabbage as a “quintessential” Irish dish. However, if you went over to Ireland and ordered that, you’d be laughed out of the pub.

I’m not knocking boiled dinner. It’s delicious. Growing up, I enjoyed it with my Irish family every St. Patrick’s Day. However, if you’re looking for a more traditional meal, an Irish meat pie is the way to go. If you’re using lamb it is called shepherd’s pie, while the beef version is called cottage pie. It’s hearty, filling, and goes great with a pint of stout, and is perfect for a cold winter day.

Kendra Murray will be found celebrating her Irish Catholic roots this St. Patrick’s Day with traditional foods from the homeland… and maybe a little corned beef, too.