User avatar
Lucius_Junius
Cool Member
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:06 pm
Location: Nova Scotia - Zone 6a

Peas - Historical Question

I've been doing a lot of reading about Acadians in Nova Scotia, and one of their main crops was peas, which they grew in fields formed from dyked marshland. I've also heard of peas being grown in vast quantities in other places, and now I'm wondering how it was done. I'm relaitvely new to gardening, but I grow my pease on trellises. I've seen them grown on brush as well. I can't picture people putting down acres and acres of brush to grow pease on, however. Is anyone aware of how peas were grown in bulk in the past? Were they just left to crawl around the ground?

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:43 pm

Here is on example. Peas are planted close together and self support each other.
https://www.kastensinc.com/current.htm

Eric

LonghornRancher
Full Member
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:34 pm
Location: South Jersey

I assume by Acadians in Nova Scotia you are referring to the 1700's before the British expelled so many of them. As an amateur historian I believe that they used small twiggy branches pushed into the soil for the peas to climb. Planting them very close, so that they supported each other came about later in the 1800's with the advent of mechanical means for harvesting. If you have ever tried to harvest in a field sowed thickly like that by hand you will soon find that it is a royal pain in the rear to find all the peas and that so many of the plants are damaged as to hinder later pickings.

Dillbert
Greener Thumb
Posts: 955
Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:29 pm
Location: Central PA

>>how peas were grown in bulk

you also have to adjust the thinking to the definition of "bulk" - because "acres and acres" is without question not the "bulk" quantity anyone was growing then.

now-a-days, yes - semi truck trailer loads of peas headed for the processing plant.

then-a-days, no - how many pounds of (dried?) peas did they store for the winter?

User avatar
digitS'
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

Re: Peas - Historical Question

I imagine that the primary purpose was to have dry peas for human and livestock food. Fresh peas were only available on a seasonal basis.

Some varieties of peas, like Alaska, are suitable for both fresh and dry use. I have tried growing these and other shorter-vine garden peas without support. It hasn't worked well in my garden.
Lucius_Junius wrote:. . . I've also heard of peas being grown in vast quantities in other places, and now I'm wondering how it was done. . .
Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington state are evidently where all 654,000 acres of US dry peas are grown. There are no supports for those vines. Harvesting is not very much different than the harvesting of cereal grains using combines.

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Very interesting link, Eric.

Out of curiosity: "I was shooting for a population of 300,000 plants per acre and got a 294,000 plant per acre stand."

How the h--- do they know they got 294,000 plants per acre? Someone stands there counting plants? "291,545, 291,546, 291,547 ... Oh shoot, I lost my place, I'm going to have to start all over."

The acres and acres and harvesting with combines is clearly not how it was done in historical times. But I agree, just pushing sticks and branches in for them to climb makes sense. I put sticks in and then tie them together with string crossbars. But if you didn't have string, just forked branches reasonable close together should work fine.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7453
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:20 pm
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

When I was a young pup, the local farmers used to grow peas for a cash crop. The farmers would plant from 2 to 5 acres. The peas were planted with a drill and the plants were just let grow and let fall over as they would. It was said they required a lot of water. They were cut with a sickle bar mower and pitched on the wagons with a pitchfork to be hauled to the pea viner where they would be threshed and the peas then went to the cannery to be canned, and the silage was sent out on a raised conveyor and stacked on site. The farmers would later feed the silage to their stock. (It would ferment and become like a pickle) My father used to contract the stacking of the silage. It was pretty much a night time job as the harvesting was done in the evening while it was cool. I got to help with that part of the labor.

Growing peas has went out of style around here, and the old viners were disassembled and the buildings sold.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
digitS'
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3587
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

jal_ut wrote:. . . the silage was sent out on a raised conveyor and stacked on site. The farmers would later feed the silage to their stock. (It would ferment and become like a pickle) . . .
And it was black and strong-smelling and the cows just . .

. loved it!

Steve :wink:
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:43 pm

Continuing off topic :wink: If you drive pass a field that has what looks like large marshmallows, that is haylage. Halfway between hay and silage. Hay baled in white plastic. Here on the island, it's becoming more popular all the time.

Eric

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:43 pm

Our pea cannery then salmon cannery is now Cannery Village Condos.

1948 photo
[img]https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uEhAtTTVPGo/TaqFmtQ7sQI/AAAAAAAAAP4/SRvr_T9IWq4/s1600/Friday+Harbor+docks+BEV.JPG[/img]


[img]https://assets.landcast.com/nwmls_images/full/548/28142548.jpg[/img]

Eric

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7453
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:20 pm
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

I plant from 3 to 5 rows of peas 10 inches apart and just let them grow with no supports. They hang on to each other and stand up pretty well. This is about the same thing the farmers do with large acreages.

[img]https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/peas_6_10.jpg[/img]

It turns into a jungle.

[img]https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/peas_7_4_2010.jpg[/img]
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
Lucius_Junius
Cool Member
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:06 pm
Location: Nova Scotia - Zone 6a

Thanks for all the responses!

The Acadians were growing acres and acres of peas. Maybe "bulk" is the wrong word, but I'm trying to express the difference between something grown in the vegetable garden and something grown in a field.

The Acadians kept their vegetable gardens near their houses (on infertile uplands) and dyked off large sections of tidal marshland to grow their main crops. These included wheat, barley, a few other grains, and peas. The English also fed some livestock fodder consisting of "legume hay such as peas and vetches." This reference, too, leads me to believe that planting peas close together and letting them support themselves must have once been relatively common practise.

I can't see planting acres of land with pea-brush, but I suppose it's possible.



Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”