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Legumes are considered plants all over the world, whose fruits were among the first to be eaten by humans. Already more than 20 thousand years ago, along with wheat, barley and lentils, peas began to be cultivated.
The history of peas from the Neolithic to Hellas
Today it is difficult to say exactly from which region the ancestors of the modern varieties of sugar peas originated. Scientists tend to believe that the people of Transcaucasia, Iran and Turkmenistan, as well as the Indian state of Punjab at that time, were cultivated with wild native species. A parallel process took place in the Mediterranean. When excavating layers from the Neolithic, Bronze and later Iron Age, archaeologists regularly find fossilized peas. Such finds took place in the study of the ruins of Troy and ancient Greek settlements. Pea seeds have been found in the Balkans and in Germany, in Austria, France and Spain.
The antiquity of peas as an agricultural and food crop is confirmed by written sources. The story of the use of ground seeds is in the writings of Theophrastus, who lived in the IV — III centuries BC.Pliny also has references to this culture. In China, the peas brought here by the Silk Road are known from the 1st century BC to the new era. Of course, the ancient seeds differed from the modern size, the content of nutrients and germination.
The norm of sowing peas in the days of Cicero, whose name is believed to be derived from the name of the pea cicer, was many times greater than now.
But at the same time, scientists, comparing the archaeological finds of the early periods with the later ones, note that already in antiquity man learned to lead primitive hybridization and select the most fruitful plants.
Peas on the table of the poor and kings of Europe
Testimonies about Europeans familiarizing themselves with this culture belong to the 7th century. By the Middle Ages, peas became a mass garden crop and the basis of nutrition for the poorest part of the population in many countries. At this time, the plant falls into the UK.The most interesting thing is that peas were eaten everywhere in an already ripe form, it was easier to store such seeds, it is possible to grind to the state of cereals or flour.
Unpretentious culture in a country with a rather harsh climate quickly settled down and even found itself at the center of the traditions that emerged due to it.
For more than half a century in England, there are competitions in shooting peas, and the punishment that arose in the 17th century, when the guilty person is put on his knees on dry peas, is known all over the world and is still practiced in some places.
But the French owe the world the discovery of the taste of green peas. For the first time, the recipe for making not ripe, but sugar pea seeds, was published in the 13th century. According to the legend, Catherine de Medici brought Italian tender peas for the first time to France when she was going to marry Henry II.But before the mass enthusiasm for green peas, a whole century passed, during which culture together with Columbus crossed the Atlantic, and in 1493 peas were sown on Isabella Island. Only in the era of Louis XIV, namely, on January 18, 1660, succulent pea seeds were served on the king's table, which came to the taste of the monarch and his court.
The Russian history of peas
In Russia, matters that have long passed, it is said that this happened during the Tsar Peas. Indeed, archaeologists and historians believe that Slavic tribes from the lower reaches of the Dnieper to Ladoga were well acquainted with peas from deep antiquity.
Even the origin of the name of the culture has common roots with the Sanskrit "Garshati", which means "fray".After all, in India, and in the countries of the Transcaucasus, and in Russia, peas were crushed, making flour.
The most ancient petrified peas on the bank of the Seversky Donets date from the 6th – 4th centuries BC.And the first centuries of the new millennium date back to the seeds found near Minsk and Pskov, Yaroslavl and in the forest zone of the Leningrad Region. The mention of peas is in the source of the XI century, the time of the reign of Yaroslav the Wise.
Seeds of sugar peas in the writings of scientists, life politicians and tales
Thanks to industrial development from the XVII to XIX century, peas are widely distributed as a mass crop. This amazing plant is of interest not only among the peasants, but also among writers and scholars.
G. Mendel's published work on the general principles of heredity was written on the basis of research on the crossing and growing of several generations of peas.
A written in 1835 by G.Kh. Andersen's tale of finding the true princess of the pea, in fact, has become the main character.
Already in 1906 there were more than 250 varieties of sugar peas in the world, which became extremely popular in the United States and Europe. In Russia, in 1913, up to a million hectares of arable land was under crops. Even the curious cases of those years testify to the spread of peas and its role in crop rotation.
Inspired by agronomy at the beginning of the last century, US President Thomas Jefferson, besides other garden crops, grew many varieties of sugar peas near his home, considering this plant to be extremely important in human nutrition.
You can buy a bag of seeds of the Prince Albert variety, which was once grown by the third president, in the garden in Monticello today.
It is interesting that the pea itself, after such attention of the highest person of the country, really entered the daily menu of many Americans. But at the end of the XIX century, peas caused the death of a huge ship. The cargo ship that flew onto the reefs, into the hold of which water poured through a hole, after some time was like an explosion, literally torn apart by swollen peas that made up the cargo of the ship.
Cultivating varieties of sugar and shelling peas in the world
Until the last century, shelling varieties with hard leaves of ripened beans made up the lion's share of the world's pea crop.
Today sugar varieties of peas prevail in plantings, which can be eaten together with a tender pod that is completely devoid of a hard, wax-like layer.
This was facilitated by the development of canning technologies and freezing of green peas, as well as the possibility of mechanized sowing, watering and harvesting peas. By the size of the areas occupied by shelling peas, today Canada is leading, where a monument depicting this plant has been erected in the province of Saskatchewan.
The main global producers of green peas are China and India, the European Union is a little behind. Besides the fact that peas are a valuable food product, the culture is used to make animal feed and starch, proteins and plastics. Modern pea varieties have better yields than before, are resistant to disease and are more viable. Therefore, at lower rates of sowing peas, it is possible to obtain stable yields of both juicy green peas and delicious sugar beans, as well as varieties for long-term storage and processing into cereals and flour.
Live fertilizer, or what to plant after peas
But the most interesting thing in peas is that it is capable of enriching the soil with nitrogen, essential for plants. This amazing property is used in agriculture and household plots.
After growing peas in the zone of the plant's root system, up to several tens of grams of nitrogen per meter remains.
During the season, you can harvest up to three harvests of peas, which agricultural technology is extremely simple. The green parts of peas are also rich in nitrogen, which gives grounds to grow this type of legumes as green manure and natural fertilizer before, after, and even with other cultivated plants.
What to plant after the pea, what kind of neighborhood with this culture will benefit? The most interesting thing is that peas as a predecessor on a garden are perfectly perceived by all plants, and carrots, cucumbers, turnips and lettuce, cabbage, potatoes and corn, parsley and many other plants can coexist with them without problems. If you plant seeds of sugar peas next to tomatoes, garlic and onions, the plants will suffer from mutual oppression.