The pea is grown as a field crop for the production of grain for stock-feeding and for the manufacture of “split peas” for culinary use, for canning in the factories, for forage and green-manuring and to supply the seed trade. The field- or stock-pea differs from the garden pea usually in its violet or purple rather than white flowers, its smaller and more uniformly smooth seeds, but chiefly in the less tenderness and sweetness and lower quality of the green seeds.
For those not familiar with this tasty, nutritious weed, purslane can be a real challenge to manage in vegetable crops for a number of reasons. The seeds of this weed remain viable for many years in the garden, and generally do not germinate until hot weather — that is, after many of the market garden crops have already been planted. To make matters worse, this succulent plant often reroots after cultivation. Purslane also grows so close to the ground that it is impossible to control by mowing.
The war between my two farming mentors, Lowry and Tightwood, had escalated since the Canadian Thistle Crisis. Now the men were inspecting Lowry’s just-planted pea patch and arguing over the origins of mere pigweed. Lowry thought our local pigweed variety originated on Tightwood’s farm. Tightwood asserted biblical origins: “It’s in the Good Book. When the Good Lord cast the demons into the pig herd, some got confused and thought he said pigweed. That’s why pigweed is so devilish.”
The garden Pea is the most important member of the genus Pisum. It is native to Europe, but has been cultivated from before the Christian Era for the rich seeds. The field or stock Pea differs little from the garden Pea except in its violet rather than white flowers and its small gray seeds. There are many varieties and several well-marked races of garden Peas. Whilst Peas are grown mostly for their seeds, there is a race in which the thick, soft green pods, with the inclosed seeds, are eaten.