Chickling vetch, also known by various names such as grass pea, white vetch, blue sweet pea, Indian vetch or Indian pea, chickling vetch (Lathyrus sativus) is a nutritious legume grown to feed livestock and humans in countries around the world.
Chickling vetch is a relatively drought-tolerant plant that grows reliably when most other crops fail. For this reason, it is an important source of nutrition in food-plagued areas. Agriculturally, chickling vetch is often used as a cover crop or green manure. It is effective as a summer crop, but can overwinter in mild climates after fall planting. Chickling vetch has ornamental value as well, producing white, purple, pink and blue blooms in midsummer, often on the same plant. Planting chickling vetch for nitrogen is also common. Chickling vetch fixes a tremendous amount of nitrogen in the soil, importing as much as 60 to 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre when the plant grown for at least 60 days. It also provides a huge amount of beneficial organic matter that can be composted or plowed back into the soil after flowering. The creeping vines and long roots provide excellent erosion control.