|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Pea. As known to horticulturists, the pea is the seeds and plant of Pisum sativum and its many forms, one of the Leguminosae;, grown for its edible seeds and sometimes for the edible pods.
The garden pea is native to Europe, but has been cultivated from before the Christian era for the rich seeds. The field or stock pea differs little from the garden pea except in its violet rather than white flowers and its small gray seeds. There are many varieties and several well-marked races of garden peas. Whilst peas are grown mostly for their seeds, there is a race in which the thick soft green pods, with the inclosed seeds, are eaten. The common or shelling peas may be separated into two classes on the character of the seed itself,—those with smooth seeds and those with wrinkled seeds. The latter are the richer, but they are more likely to decay in wet cold ground, and therefore are not so well adapted to very early planting.
Peas may also be classified as climbing, half-dwarf or showing a tendency to climb and doing best when support is provided, and dwarf or those not requiring support. Again, the varieties may be classified as to season,— early, second-early, and late. Vilmorin's classification (Les Plantes Potagères) is as follows: Left to themselves, the varieties of peas soon lose their characteristics through variation. They are much influenced by soil and other local conditions. Therefore, many of the varieties are only minor strains of some leading type, and are not distinct enough to be recognized by printed descriptions.
Garden or green peas.
Peas are one of the earliest garden vegetables to reach edible maturity. The date at which a mess of green peas could be gathered used to be regarded as an indication of a man's horticultural ability. In modern times, green peas grown far away to the South come to northern markets while the ground is still frozen and are eagerly purchased only to result in disappointment and a longing for the old-time quality. Such disappointment is inevitable, for even with refrigerator cars, express trains, and modern skilful handling, green peas grown hundreds of miles away cannot come to our tables for many hours, often not for days, after they have been gathered, and with an inevitable loss of the freshness, which is essential for satisfactory quality.
Peas do well in cool moist weather and will germinate and make a slow but healthy and vigorous growth in lower temperatures than most garden vegetables. The young plants will even endure some frost with little injury, but the blossoms and young pods will be injured or killed by a frost which did not seem materially to check the growth of the plant. For this reason it is generally most satisfactory to delay planting until there is little probability of a frost after the plants come into bloom.
The cultural requirements are simple, but a thorough preparation of the soil before planting is desirable, and the use of green and fresh manure should be avoided. The best depth of planting varies with the season and character of the soil, and early plantings on clay land should be covered only 1 to 2 inches deep, while later plantings on sandy land do best in drills 6 or 8 inches deep to be gradually filled as the seedlings grow. Generally anything more than surface tillage will do a growing pea crop more harm than good; but any crust formed after rains, particularly while the plants are young, should be promptly broken up.
Of the better garden sorts, from fifty to one hundred good seeds arc in an ounce, and a half-pint should plant 50 to 80 feet of row and furnish a sufficiency of pods for a small family for the week or ten days in which they would be in prime condition. For a continued supply one must depend upon repeated plantings.
Most of the best garden varieties can be well grown without trellising, but the sorts growing over 2 feet high will do better if supported. Nothing better for this purpose is known than brush from the woods, but this is not always available and a good substitute is the wire pea trellis offered by most dealers in horticultural supplies, or a home-made one made by strings stretched 2 to 4 inches apart on alternate sides of supporting stakes. The ingenuity of the home-gardener will devise good forms of trellising.
It is evident that green peas occupy too much ground to be a practical crop for a city lot or small town garden, and generally the town dweller can be most satisfactorily supplied from a nearby market-garden; and the great superiority of freshly gathered local-grown peas over those which have to be shipped in make this one of the best of crops for a gardener with permanent customers. The best cultural methods for field plantings do not differ materially from those given for the garden. No planting is so likely to give a satisfactory yield both as to quantity and quality as on an old clover sod on a well-drained clay loam, which should be well plowed in the fall or early winter and the surface worked into a good tilth as early as practicable in the spring.
Planting can be best done with a seed-drill so arranged that the rows are 12 to 36 inches apart, according to the variety, with occasional rows left blank for convenience in gathering.
Picking should be done after sundown or in early morning before nine o'clock and care be taken not to bulk the pods, as they are liable to heat and spoil.
Peas for canning.
There is no modern industry in which there has been greater improvement within the past ten or more years, both as to methods and the quality of the product, than in the canning of vegetables. This is especially noticeable in canned peas. First there has been a great betterment as to the varietal quality of the stock used. For canning, particularly when modern methods of harvesting and processing are used, it is important not only that the green peas be sweet and palatable, but that the largest possible proportion of the pods shall be in prime edible condition at the same time, and canners are influenced by these qualities in selecting varieties for their plantings, and in the cultural methods followed. The development of each planting is closely watched by an expert, who directs that it be cut and delivered at the factory on the day when he judges it will be in the best condition, the time for individual crops being sometimes modified by the capacity of the farmer to deliver and the factory to handle it. Not infrequently certain crops are left to ripen and be harvested as grain because of such conditions. In hot and sunny weather, the vines are cut either after five in the afternoon or before nine in the morning, hauled to the factory and from the wagon go direct to a specially constructed threshing-machine or "viner," which separates the peas and delivers them on a moving inclined belt, which throws out any bits of vines or pods. They are then washed and graded, and go to the processer. So promptly is this work done that it is known of peas being in the cans and being cooked before the wagon on which they were brought from the field could start for home. Usually peas put up by a well-managed cannery come to the table in more palatable condition than so-called fresh peas which were gathered ten to twenty-four hours before and shipped from 10 to several hundred miles to market.
Canners who are particular as to the labeling of their output often separate it into different grades, determined by the variety and size of peas and labeled somewhat as follows:
Varieties 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Small, smooth seed, not over 16/64 18/64 20/64 Run of crop Small, wrinkled seed, not over 18/64 20/64 22/64 Run of crop Large, smooth seed,, not over 20/64 22/64 24/64 Run of crop Large wrinkled seed, not over 20/64 24/64 26/64 Run of crop
Varieties and seed.
Few vegetables have developed greater varietal differences affecting their horticultural or culinary value than garden peas. As to vines, there are sorts from 6 inches to 6 feet in height and those which very rarely form more than a single stem, while others are so branched that they often are wider than tall; some mature their crop very early and all at once, others not until the vines are fully grown or continuing through a long season; pods which are so broad and long that the inclosed peas never fill them, others in which the growing peas very often split the pod open; peas which are green, yellow or white, smooth and hard; others which are wrinkled, distorted and comparatively soft, even when fully mature. Very conspicuous variations of little practical importance are sometimes correlated with invisible qualities which are of great importance.
When grown for seed, peas of the garden varieties yield a comparatively small fold of increase, seldom over 10 or 12 and often only 2 or 3, so that it is more difficult than with most vegetables always to secure full supplies of certain sorts, and seedsmen's stocks are constantly changing, not only as to character but name.
The following are now very popular varieties: Extra-early smooth-seeded—Alaska or Prolific Extra Early; early wrinkled seeded—Thomas Laxton, Gradus, Surprise; dwarf Excelsior, either the Notts or the Suttons; midseason—Advancer, Admiral, Senator; late—Champion of England, Strategem.
However one should confer with the seedsmen as to the most available stock best suited for the particular needs.
Sugar or edible-podded peas.
These are a class little known in this country, but are largely grown in Europe. They are characterized by large more or less fleshy and often distorted pods, which are cooked when in the same stage of maturity and in the same way as string beans. Varieties have been developed in which the pods are as white, tender, and wax-like as those of the best varieties of wax- podded beans.
There are a number of kinds of field peas in which the vines are very vigorous, hardy, and productive and the peas generally small, hard, and becoming tough, dry, and unpalatable as they ripen. In one variety of this class known as French Canner, the very young and small peas are sweet and tender, and in this stage are put up by French canners under the name of "petit poise." The larger-seeded Marrowfat peas were formerly commonly used by canners, and large quantities are still packed. If this is done while the peas are sufficiently young and tender they make a fairly good product.
Large quantities of field peas, mostly of the smaller- seeded kinds, are used for split peas, the preparation of which consists in cleaning and grading, kiln-drying, splitting, and screening out the hulls and chips from the full half peas. This is all done by special machines, mostly of American invention. The annual consumption of split peas in the United States is about 50,000 barrels, of which, before the European war, 75 per cent came from abroad.CH
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Several varieties of P. sativum have been bred. Widely cultivated examples include:
- Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon is commonly known as the snow pea
- Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon ser. cv. is known as the sugar snap pea
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Congo P., Cajanus indicus. Everlasting P., Lathyrus latifolius. Glory P., Clianthus Dampieri. Hoary P., Pigeon P., Cajanus indicus. Scurfy P., Psoralea. Sweet P., Lathyrus odoratus. CH
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963