Raising the Crop
A golden rule is never to sow the peas in wet soil ; wait until the soil has dried and works freely. Sow in broad flat drills from 2 to 21/2 in. deep, made with a draw hoe. Sow thinly, spacing the seeds evenly.
If mice are troublesome, shake the seed in a tin containing a little red lead or paraffin. Birds will attack the germinating seeds as they come up, so protect the rows with black cotton stretched on sticks about 6 in. above the soil; or use pea guards.
Of course you can forget red lead nowadays and paraffin is getting hard to source. Other methods of deterring mice include holly leaves or gorse laid over the seed in the trench.
Rather than direct sowing in bad weather, starting peas in guttering filled with compost in the greenhouse or a number of seed trays is popular. Cloches are effective too and they keep birds off as well.
Space the rows of peas according to their height ; 2 ft. for the dwarf, 3 ft. for the medium and 5 ft. for the tall varieties. Keep the soil well cultivated between the rows and keep the pods picked as they mature.
Special varieties, such as Harrison’s Glory and Lincoln Blue, are grown. The haulms are pulled when all the pods are mature and hung up to dry in a shed or greenhouse. Shell out the peas when perfectly dry, pick over for blemished grain and store in a cool, dry place.
Pea Harrison’s Glory is still available from the Heritage Seed Library but Pea Lincoln Blue doesn’t seem to be listed now. There is a pea called Lincoln but it’s not described as a marrowfat or drying pea.
One of the most popular peas for home drying or processing is Maro which was introduced into Britain from Japan before the second world war. It seems to have taken a while to become popular. Many of the marrowfat pea varieties grown commercially nowadays are Japanese in origin, like: Sakura, Kabuki and Genki
One pint will sow a row of 90 ft.