This biennial umbellifer, found wild in the south of Europe, was introduced into the English gardens in 1548. The crop is of limited commercial importance in the United States. It is unquestionably our most beautiful vegetable for garnishing, but not fully appreciated for this purpose. The leaves are finely cut, curled and valued for salads and flavoring as well as for garnishing.
Extra Curled Dwarf is probably the most largely planted. Moss Curled, Fern-Leaved and Summer Green are also popular.
As the seeds germinate very slowly, they are often sown under glass, and transplanted once before setting in the open. The plants are hardy and may be taken to the open ground nearly as soon as cabbage. It is also customary to sow outdoors early in the spring or at intervals during the summer. For the fall crop in the North, June is the proper time to sow. The rows should be about 14 inches apart and the plants 6 to 10 inches apart in the row. The leaves may be used as soon as they are large enough, and gathered during the entire season.. Parsley will thrive in any moist, fertile soil. Nitrate of soda is especially valuable in securing rapid, tender growth. The leaves are tied together in small bunches for marketing. By protecting the plants in cold frames a supply throughout the winter is insured.
The parsnip is an important root crop, belonging to the family of Umbellifer*˜. It is closely related to parsley, carrot and celery. The roots are boiled, fried and used in soups and stews. They are also popular for stock feeding.
Deep, fertile, sandy loams grow the finest roots. Clay soils have a tendency to produce crooked and branching roots, which are not wanted by the market. Under the most favorable conditions the roots will attain a length of one foot and will be straight and smooth.
Guernsey (Student and Improved Half-Long) is planted most extensively. Hollow Crown, which is known by several other names, is also valued. Early Short Round is a small, very early variety, the roots of which are sometimes bunched with potherbs.
A full season is required to grow a good crop of parsnips. The seed, which germinates very slowly, should be sown as early as possible in the spring. A few radish seeds are sometimes sown with the parsnips. They germinate quickly, and the young plants mark the rows, so that cultivation may be begun before the parsnips are up. This method is especially desirable in soils which have a tendency to bake.
The soil should be thoroughly prepared before sowing. From Â« to 1 inch of soil is sufficient covering. As the seedlings are very small and delicate at first, it is customary to use plenty of new seed, and then thin the plants to 6 or 7 inches in strong soils and 4 or 5 in poorer ones. There should be 15 to 18 inches between rows for wheel-hoe cultivation, and 2 feet or more when horse implements are to be used.
The roots may be used any time after they have reached maturity. Most gardeners who grow them in large amounts dig part of the crop in the fall, burying the roots in the ground or storing them in pits, caves or cellars. To prevent drying and shriveling in storage, they should be covered with moist sand or soil. As the roots are perfectly hardy in all parts of the North, the greater part of the crop is usually left in the ground where it was grown until suitable weather for digging the following spring. Freezing improves the quality (although this idea is sometimes refuted). The roots come out of the ground in a bright, fresh condition, and are salable on most markets. Parsnips are easily grown, and all markets should be well supplied.
Decandolle ("Origin of Cultivated Plants," p. 330) makes the following statement in regard to the origin of the garden pea: "The species seems to have existed in western Asia, perhaps from the south of the Caucasus to Persia, before it was cultivated. The Aryans introduced it into Europe, but it perhaps existed in northern India before the arrival of the eastern Aryans. It no longer exists in a wild state, and when it occurs in fields, half-wild, it is not said to have a modified form so as to approach some other species."
The pea is one of the important vegetables grown in the United States. It is almost invariably planted in home gardens, and truckers regard it as one of their leading vegetables for early and midsummer sales. The crop is also canned to a great extent.
The table in Chapter XXV (Tables) shows that this is one of our most nutritious vegetables. Besides being wholesome, the young tender peas are regarded as a delicacy. Being a legume, the soil is improved by its culture and this advantage is considered by truckers who are alert as to methods of making their lands more fertile.
Varieties of peas may be classified as dwarf, half-dwarf and tall. The dwarf varieties, because they do not require support, are most largely grown. The tall varieties, for the ground occupied, produce much heavier yields, but must be supported. Varieties are also classified as smooth and wrinkled; there are dwarf and tall varieties of each class. The smooth peas may be planted earlier than the wrinkled, because they do not rot so quickly in the soil and the plants are hardier; but the wrinkled peas are sweeter and superior in quality.
A third class, known as edible-podded or sugar peas, is grown to some extent in this country. The young tender pods are excellent when properly cooked and seasoned. They may also be shelled, and only the peas eaten.
Among the many varieties of peas the following are the most important: