Peas are one of our truly historic vegetables, and have been found as far back as the bronze age. Everyone should find some space to grow at least a row or cirle of Peas, nothing can beat the taste of home grown peas fresh from the pod. In this first of 2 blogs, I thought I'd present some snippets of information from the past about peas, in the next blog I'll cover the cultivation, modern varieties and see what your favourite varieties are.
Peas were found in the historic city of Troy
In 399BC Dionysius the Elder watched his son flicking a pea across the table at one of his brothers, from this he had an idea, and created the military catapult which was capable of hurling 350 pound boulders at the enemy.
In the reign of Queen Mary, for the month of February Tusser wrote :-
"Go plow in the stubble, for now is the season
for sowing of fitches, of beanes, and of peason
Sowe runcivals timely, and all that be gray,
but sowe not the white til S. Gregorie's day.
Sowe peason and beans in the wane of the moone,
who soweth them sooner, he soweth too soone ;
That they with the planet may rest and rise,
and flourish with bearing, most plentiful wise.
Both peason and beans sowe afore ye do plow,
the sooner ye harrow, the better for you:
White peason so good, for the purse and the pot,
let them be wel used, else wel do ye not.
Stike plentie of bowes, among runcival pease,
to clamber thereon, and to branch at their ease:
So doing more tender and greater they wex,
if peacocke and turkey, leave jobbing their bex."
In his book a history of cultivated vegetables,1822, Henry Philip states :-
"Peas, when green, are a pleasant, grateful, nourishing food, but somewhat flatulent and windy, as well as when dry. They are good to sweeten the blood, and correct salt scorbutic humours, either eaten raw or boiled "
Mendel, a monk born in 1822 used research on Pea plants to provide the foundation for modern genetic theory, in particular the effects of crossing round peas with wrinkled peas.
Experiment with Pea seed germination in the early 1900's showed that 2 year old Pea seeds germinate as well as 1 year old, but by the 4th year germination decreased rapidly.
Recommended Pea varieties, from Solon Robinsons book "facts for farmers" of 1869, were :-
"Champion of England; Fairbeard's Nonpareil; Champion of Scotland; Eugenie; Napoleon ; Missouri Marrowfat; Large White Marrowfat, a late sort; Blackeyed Marrowfat, an excellent kind, worthy of general cultivation; British Queen, very prolific, long podded, and fine flavored"
In the next part of this blog, I'm planning on looking at the modern varities of Peas, and doing a survey to see whatyour best varieites are.