Black-Eyed Cowpeas, also known as a “Southern Field Pea” or “Crowder Pea are one of my favorite legumes to grow because you get sooooo many and there are multiple ways to eat them.
One way is to let the beans dry and cook them… your traditional black-eyed peas. For this method it’ll take anywhere between 80 – 100 days til harvesting time… and you have options; You can let the pods stay on the plant until they are brown and dry, or you can pull the plants and hang them to dry. Either way, I usually leave a few plants in the garden beds to dry so that I have an abundance of seeds for planting and sharing.
If you choose to dry them for cooking that traditional black-eyed peas dish, you will simply remove the beans from the pods (shell them), and you’re ready! I don’t do anything special with cleaning… but I do soak all of my beans for at least 6 hours before cooking them.
You can also pick the pods while they are green, like a snap pea, as soon as they are well-filled out with seeds, about 70 days after planting. For this method, I chop the pods and add onions, bell peppers and whatever else I have in the garden. So you can really get creative.
The pods are 6″ to 8” long and can have up to 15 peas on each one. That’s a lot of beans! And the vines are resistant to wilt and nematodes. They are cream or tannish-colored with a small black spot. They love heat and are a great source of fiber and protein.
So how do you plant them?
I plant my seeds directly into my garden beds with lots of compost. But many experts suggest you first soak the seeds for up to 12 hours. The idea is that since the seeds like a lot of moisture in order to germinate, this will speed up the process because they will already be soft and moist. Then plant them directly in the soil, after your last chance of frost (ideally above 70 degrees. You don’t need to plant them deep, about an inch into the soil. They are heavy yielders, so give them some space. I plant the seeds about three inches apart and I space the rows about two feet apart. Also it’s best to give them some support, like trellises. It helps keep the plants off the ground, which gives them more circulation and it should minimize disease. It also makes it easier to harvest.
As for when you will see your babies popping out of the soil… My experience has been within a week, but other gardeners say 7-14 days. So be patient.
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