The Cicerchia is a plant belonging to the Fabaceae family, cultivated for its seeds, particularly used in some areas of the world. It is a legume closely related to the eating habits of central Italy, which is also cultivated in Asia and Africa. It is a particularly resistant plant, as it happens for chickpeas and lentils, it also develops in drought areas, with a climate that is not favorable to the cultivation of other plants and in very nutrient-poor soils. In some historical periods the Cicerchia was the main protein food in some regions, and it is still today in particular areas of Africa and Asia. If cultivated in the garden it is advisable to position it where it can receive the rains, nothing else is needed to obtain well-developed plants, which have numerous small flowers of intense blue color, which bloom in full summer.
The Cicerchia is a legume that has been cultivated for millennia in areas where nothing else grows. In fact, this plant has the peculiarity of developing even in very compact soils, where moisture barely penetrates and in which the nutritional elements, necessary for other plants, are almost completely absent. Cicerchia is often cultivated in fields where nothing else would grow, making the land particularly productive. It is a legume particularly rich in proteins, which also contains small amounts of a neurotoxin. Proper preparation of the legume and sporadic consumption make it completely harmless, while it can be dangerous in areas where it is the only available protein source. It is not difficult to cultivate the Cicerchia, it is enough to sow at the end of winter, or early spring, on a soil that is well cleaned by weeds and lightly hoed. The seeds have a bizarre appearance: rather than legumes they look like small flattened stones, all of slightly different shapes.
The Cicerchia is a legume, as such it lives in symbiosis with some bacteria, which supply its roots with the correct amount of nitrogen, taking it directly from the air. The Cicerchia plants have been cultivated for a long time, above all due to the fact that they do not need any fertilization: even if sown in particularly nutrient-poor soils, they develop without problems. If desired it is possible to provide a light fertilization to the soil, before sowing, mixing a little manure in pellets, which also allows to slightly improve the lump dough. Another type of fertilization is not necessary at all, also because it would tend to favor the development of weeds, whose presence can harm the development of the Cicerchie. It is therefore advisable to avoid totally fertilizing. The seeds are then used on the less productive plot of the garden, the one where the soil is too compact and lacking in nutrients, where it would hardly grow any more.
Cicerchia: Pests and diseases
The Cicerchia, whose botanical name is Lathyrus sativus, is also called, in Anglo-Saxon areas, grass bean. It is a plant that is very easy to grow, which does not fear the presence of pests or diseases. Occasionally, in spring, some aphids can attack the young floral buds of the Cicerchia, but without causing excessive damage. They are plants that do not require periodic treatments against pests or diseases, which develop best in sunny areas. If grown in the shade, the Cicerchie can produce a small number of flowers, which obviously leads to a particularly poor harvest. Excess fertilizer in the soil favors the development of weeds, which can cause the choking of Cicerchia plants; for this reason it is advisable to periodically remove the weeds, avoiding the fertilizations.