This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Previous to sowing, our ground is well trodden, and then stirred with a dung-fork. Wide drills are drawn with a flat hoe, or thrown out with a spade, from 2 to 3 inches in depth, and running from north to south if on a south border, or from east to west if on a west border, either of which sites is suitable. The seed is sown thinly, trodden in, and covered with soil, and the whole border is then raked over. If circumstances are against the seed being sown before February 14th, then seed should be sown in boxes - as advised in the January number - placing these in a gentle heat, hardening off before the plants are much drawn, and planting as previously advised; and to follow these, a sowing on the border should be made as soon as possible. The best two early varieties I have grown are Harbinger and William I., both of which I strongly recommend. If a third variety is wanted, Sutton's Emerald Gem may be added : Harbinger was the earliest last season by about a week, and is very productive and good in quality. When the first sowing is pushing through the surface, another sowing of the same varieties to the same extent (twelve rows 10 feet in length) is made, also on a sheltered border; and these continue the supply till those sown in the open are ready for use.
The rows are all placed 3 feet apart, and 4-feet stakes are used, near to which height the Peas are topped, this inducing the pods to fill more rapidly. The young Pea growth is very much liked by the sparrows, and for that reason we select for the sowings that part of the border where there is much traffic. Every morning, or in the evening after a shower, the Peas are lightly dusted over with a mixture of lime, soot, and wood-ashes, and this, with the help of a gun, keeps the birds off. We mould up and stake early, working in the spray, purposely saved, between the stakes, which also tends to protect the growth. Mice are very troublesome at times, and these we poison (cats do not thrive near game-preserves), using phosphorus-paste, putting it down every evening, and picking up what is left the following morning, otherwise the birds would be poisoned wholesale.