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Vegetables - Peas

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

According to D. S. Kelsey of Connecticut, any good land, stable manured the previous year, or full of half-decayed sod, will do for garden peas. He says : I plow late in the fall and harrow thoroughly in April. Late peas collect their own nitrates on such land, and for them any good super-phosphate is a complete manure, but for early results (and I aim to secure our market and keep it by being two to five days ahead of competitors) nitrates must be supplied. The land is then too cold to favor the nitrifying processes and to insure success. To lengthen the season we use in the drill 600 to 1,000 pounds of 4-5-10 complete fertilizer of our own mixing. The nitrogen is nearly all organic.

" As a source of nitrogen, well-decayed horse dressing may be broadcasted in partial substitution, or a little pulverized poultry dressing applied directly in the drills. We plant in single rows (north and south always), 36 inches apart, 4 to 5 inches deep, covering 2 inches and filling these drills gradually in subsequent cultivations. Run the weeder every five to seven days from planting till vines are 6 inches high; then the cultivator weekly. A quick start and continuous rapid growth is our motto for all such crops. The same rules and methods will rush turnips or even sweet corn through as a second crop following peas.

" We pick every morning (the same' rows two or three times a week), beginning promptly at 3.30, hiring school children, who go to bed at sunset, for this purpose. A pod thus picked, and kept cold and wet as found at sunrise, will keep its contents perfectly sweet and fresh for two or three days, although marketing immediately should be the rule. It is bad policy to sell wilted pods to one's regular trade.

"Yield? Oh, 10o to 20o bushels an acre, according to season, land, and kind. I mean the kind of man. Bushing? Usually it does not pay. We sometimes wire a field, using split cordwood stakes every rod on each row. One wire 15 inches above the vines. When not rushed we mow and dry the vines promptly, then thresh and store. Peas make excellent winter fodder. Otherwise rot them, but never burn. They are a highly valuable mulch for any purpose."


"My father," writes the editor, "grew the old Champion of England and Blue Imperial garden peas when I was a boy, because they were, in his opinion, of the choicest quality. He would not grow any of the round, smooth-seeded, very early sorts, because of their lack of flavor, nor would he try any of the dwarf wrinkled varieties, because he classed them with the very early kinds. When I had a garden of my own, I wished to avoid the work of brushing the rows, so determined to try American Wonder, Premium Gem and Bliss Ever-bearing. These three varieties were such a surprise to both my father and myself that from that year afterward not a single tall-growing variety was grown in our garden.

" Since then I have grown many of the important dwarf peas and have found that American Wonder is still unsurpassed in quality and is, perhaps, the hardiest of the wrinkled varieties. It requires a rich soil and extra cultivation to get the best results from it. If I were restricted to one variety, American Wonder would be my choice. Next to this variety I think I would place Nott's Excelsior. It is an excellent cropper and compares favorably in flavor with the best of both the dwarf and the tall wrinkled kinds. Because f its productiveness, it has become exceedingly popular among market gardeners, with whom it has largely replaced even American Wonder, because it is a trifle earlier. The old Premium Gem is almost entirely replaced by these varieties. Sutton's Excelsior, one of the newer varieties, is somewhat later than Nott's, but has large pods usually containing six or seven big peas of excellent flavor. It is a strong candidate for public favor.

" In growing peas it is essential to know that the Dwarf Wrinkled kinds are somewhat less hardy than the round, smooth-seeded varieties. They cannot be sown, as a rule, quite so early, because the ground must have warmed up a good deal be-fore they will germinate successfully, and if sown too early they decay. The round-seeded kinds can be sown almost as soon as the ground can be worked. and they will come up remarkably well, but no one who has a discriminating taste will enjoy these extra early peas, because they lack flavor. Therefore, for home use, it is well to confine one's self to the early dwarf wrinkled kinds. If one is supplying a demand he cannot do better than to educate his regular customers and his grocer into a just appreciation of high quality. This may seem like wasting time, but each succeeding year the demand will increase, and people will be asking for peas weeks before they can be secured.

" Anybody who can grow anything can grow peas, because they will do well on any kind of soil, even rather poor, if it is well drained. The ground should be plowed deeply, harrowed smoothly, and the rows struck off 3 feet apart for the dwarf kinds, tall kinds should be planted in rows 5 0r 6 feet apart, because very frequently they grow 6 feet tall. The seeds are generally dropped about an inch apart and covered about 4 inches deep. Unleached wood ashes or some other fertilizer rich in potash are usually applied before harrowing. Phosphoric acid is also needed, but no nitrogen is needed, because the peas secure sufficient from the tubercles on the roots. Clean cultivation is all that is necessary until the vines would be injured by the cultivator.

"With strains of peas that have been carefully selected for market gardeners practically the whole crop can be gathered at one picking and the vines pulled up and fed to stock. In such cases the ground may be at once fitted for a crop of late cabbage, string beans, or other vegetable that matures in short time. Thus, the ground may be used for two crops in the season."


According to T. L. Wall of Clearfield county, Pennsylvania, a good clover sod makes an excellent basis for a crop of garden peas. Says he: "For the earliest crap I select a warm, well-drained eastern or southern slope, plow and prepare the ground in March if possible. As we are 1,000 to 1,700 feet above sea level, and about latitude 41 degrees, it is necessary to be ready to go to work the first day it is fit, if the frost is out of the ground.

"After plowing I first use a clod crusher to level the ground and then apply a 3%-10-5 fertilizer, made according to my own formula from nitrate of soda, dried blood, acid phosphate, muriate and sulphate of potash, at the rate f about 1,800 pounds to the acre. One year I applied about half of it where the row of peas was to be, cultivating it or harrowing it in thoroughly, thus putting the ground in the best condition possible early in the season.

"The rows are staked out 3% to feet apart. Four feet is best unless the furrows are made very straight. A single shovel plow is used. A furrow is first made a little to one side of the row of stakes and peas planted by hand, in it, using a quart to a 23o-foot row. The shovel plow is then run close above, and just near enough to cover the peas nicely in the first furrow about inch deep. In the second furrow made in covering the peas in the first, peas are planted as in the first furrow, and covered with the plow in the same way. Thus a double row is made with about 6 inches between, In this space in the row, small sharpened locust stakes are driven every 15 to 20 feet as soon as the peas are up, so that the rows can be plainly seen. On these stakes, poultry netting is stretched and fastened at upper and lower edges with staples.

" For Alaska, my favorite early variety, a 12-inch wire is used. For Gradus and other kinds of about the same height, 24-inch wire is necessary, but above that width the cost of wire is too great, so I rarely plant the high-growing kinds. The remainder of the fertilizer is applied, between the rows about the time the wire is put up, and cultivation will follow. One or two applications of nitrate of soda are made before the vines reach the top of the wire netting to keep up the growth and to :keep the color a dark green. Other plantings are made the same as the first, according to season. The second and later plantings are of the best varieties as Gradus, Senator, Yorkshire Hero, and Improved Pride of the Market. Later plantings are covered 2 inches or more.

" Alaska is selected for the earliest planting on account of its extreme hardiness. It does not often rot in the soil, and its quality is good if growth is quick and peas are picked just as soon as they are large enough. For putting on fertilizer a distributer is run by hand, very much like a wheel-barrow. Any quantity can be applied in a width of 8 to 30 inches between or along rows. I do my own marketing and by having peas ready to sell early in June I have practically no competition. Peas come in nicely with strawberries, the two forming an irresistible temptation to the average housekeeper.

" Some may say that a machine planter could be used to advantage, but I have not seen a machine that will plant the double rows as I want them. A machine that would plant peas i inch apart in double row, with 5 or 6 inches of space between, would be very convenient. As soon as the crop is off, early in July, usually, the vines are removed and fed to stock. The stakes and wire are taken down and stored away for next year. The ground is well cultivated and red clover is sowed.

" The land on which I grow peas is an old field that was farmed in wheat for many years until the soil was practically exhausted. I first-lined it with some fertilizer and succeeded in getting a fair catch of red clover. I have never used any barnyard manure on it, depending entirely on commercial fertilizers and clover. The heavy application of fertilizers insures a good catch of clover. I usually mow the clover twice a year and plant again in peas.

" The land is now set in young cherry and pear trees, only a little extra room being left for each row of trees, the rows of peas being planted 4 or 5 feet from the trees. The trees reach out their roots and get a share of the fertilizer and seem to enjoy it. I find that the peas do better after they have been grown a year or two on the same ground, with crops of clover the years between. Whether this is because the nitrogen-gathering bacteria be-come more numerous after repeated growing f these leguminous crops, I cannot say with certainty."

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