Pea, or Pisum, L. a genus of leguminous plants, consisting of four species ; of which the following are the principal
2. The sativum, or Common Pea, which has long been cultivated in this country. There are two sorts of this species, known by the names of Grey, ox Hog-Pea, and of the Common, or Garden-Pea. The latter is again divided into many varieties, of which gardeners enumerate not less than thirty; but we shall only state the names of those which amply repay the labour and expence of cultivation ; namely, the Grey Hog-Pea ; the Common Wlile Boiling- Pea ; the Charlton (or, forty-day) Hotspur; the Rounceval, Blue, Large Grey, and Speckled Pease,
All these varieties delight in dry warm soils, though the blue pea will also succeed on poor land. They are raised from seed, which is sown from the middle of February to the middle of April, in the proportion of from three to five bushels per acre, broad-cast ; but, if drilled, two bushels will be fully sufficient. When they are sown broad-cast, the ground is usually harrowed, to protect the seed from the depredations of birds ; but the drilled pease are earthed up, and weeded twice; the first time, when they are about an inch above the ground ; and secondly, when they attain the height of about four inches.
No sooner do pease arrive at maturity, than they are attacked and devoured by rooks, wood-pigeons, and other birds : hence, it will be necessary to watch them with care : and, after cutting, or hacking them, as it is provincialy termed, they should be formed into small wads, or bundles, and exposed for some days, so that the straw may wither, and the fruit become dry.
Beside their utility for culinary purposes, pease, when harvested dry, and ground into meal, are uncommonly serviceable for fattening hogs; as no other grain agrees better with those animals. If the straw be forward in autumn, and has been housed without injury, it will be little inferior to ordinary hay, and afford a very useful arti cle of fodder ; on which every kind of cattle will thrive: and, though it be apt to occasion gripes in horses, if given to them before the month of January, yet such effects may be corrected, by allowing a few turnips, cabbages, or potatoes, either with, or ;after they have eaten the pea-straw.
A crop of pease is so far from exhausting the land, that it may be considered as an excellent and ameliorating manure. Thus, grey~ pease, in particular, if sown towards the end of March, and ploughed in shortly before they flower, will prove a valuable dressing for wheat. Hence, likewise, if the Char/ton or forty-day Pea be sown early in the same month, the crop may be cleared off thefield towards the end of June, or early in July; so that it will become an excellent preparation for turnips. Should the harvest, however, be later, the wads ought to be laid in rows, and the intermediate spaces ploughed without delay; by which practice the soil will not only be cleared from weeds but at the same time be materially improved; the surface being rendered more loose and friable in consequence of the putrefactive fermentation beneath the pease; which exclude the rays of the sun, and retain moisture. In this manner, the culture of pease is not only a source of profit, but also saves labour in tillage ; the turnips being sown after a single ploughing, which cannot be effected by any other crop.
Such is the method in which pease are cultivated for general use ; but, in order to obtain them at an early season, the gardeners in the vicinity of the metropolis, raise them on hot-beds. For this purpose, they sow the Dwarf-Pea, about the middle of October, in warm borders contiguous to walls or hedges : when the plants appear, they are gently earthed, up, to protect them from frost. During the severer parts of the winter, they are covered with pease-haulm, straw, or other light shelter, and occasionally earthed as they advance in size. Towards the end of January, or early in February, they are removed to a hot-bed, and afterwards sparingly watered till the fruit begin to appear; being also screened with mats from the intense heat of the meridian sun.
In order to obtain a regular supply for the table, the gardeners in a similar manner cultivate the Charlton, or forty-day pea, the Golden Hot-spur, or the Masters and Reading Hot-spurs, which afford crops in succession. The greatest care, however, is necessary, to clear them from weeds in the spring, and also from vermin, which will otherwise destroy the whole produce. Their most formidable enemies are slugs, which particularly infest wet soils, or such gardens as are over-run with weeds. These insects conceal themselves during the day in small cavities under ground, and come forth in the night, when they do extensive mischief. With a view to check such devastations, it will be advisable, first to clear the land around the plants, then to destroy their recesses, and next to scatter a little slaked lime over the ground, very early in the morning, when the vermin are in motion. By this simple expedient, they will be effectually exterminated, without any injury to the pease, provided the lime be not too thickly spread over the plants.
In common with all other leguminous fruits, pease possess a strong mucilage, with an earthy basis, and yield a very solid nourishment to persons of vigorous stomachs; but, as pulse of every description evolves a considerable portion of fixed air within the bowels, it is apt to excite flatulency and costiveness, if eaten too frequently, or in too large quantities. On the other hand, pease boiled in a fresh, or green state, are equally wholesome and agreeable ; being less flatulent, and more easily digested, than after they have attained to maturity.—Bread formed and baked, of pease alone, is remarkably solid, heavy, and un-wholesome. Beckmann informs us, that such bread, while new, had an agreeable taste, but was productive of hoarseness and sore-throats.—.Experience, however, has evinced, that .three parts of rye-flour, and one of ground pease, afford a palatable and more nourishing bread, than that made of wheat or rye alone.
This hardy vegetable may be easily propagated, either by parting the roots, or sowing the seeds in autumn ; and prospers in any common garden soil.—its root has a sweet taste, similar to that of liquorice; is highly nutritious when boiled; and has, in times of scarcity, served as a substitute for bread.—It is likewise held in great esteem by the Highlanders of Scot-laud, who chew it like tobacco and assert, that it obviates the uneasy sensation of hunger. In the counties of Breadalbane and Ross, the inhabitants bruise and steep the roots of the heath-pea in water, from which they brew an agreeable, though intoxicating, liquor.— In medicine, they are employed to promote expectoration, and supposed to be very efficacious in pulmonary complaints.—The herb is relished by horses, cows, goats, and sheep.
Pea, the Narrow-leaved Everlasting, or Vetchling, Lathyrus sylvestris, L. an indigenous perennial plant, growing in woods and hedges, chiefly in the south-western counties of England; and flowering in the months of July and August.—This winding herb is well-calculated for arbours : its red blossoms are beautifully veined, and eagerly visited by bees; though the plant itself is said to be noxious to sheep.