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Growing Cowpeas, also Black eye peas, Southern peas

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
      P P              

(Best months for growing Cowpeas in USA - Zone 5a regions)

P = Sow seed

  • Easy to grow. When soil begins to warm up. After frosts finish.. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 59°F and 95°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: Rows 1 Metre apart
  • Harvest in 11-14 weeks.
  • Young cow peas on plant (commons.wikimedia.org - Dinesh Valke - CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • Cow Peas (black-eyed peas) (commons.wikimedia.org - Bubba73 - CCA-SA-3.0 License)

Cowpeas are heat and dry tolerant but frost will finish them. Can be grown in cooler areas if they are started under cover and planted out after last frost. They are an ancient food source and have probably been used since Neolithic times.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Cowpeas

Young leaves can be cooked and used like spinach and are very high in protein. The young pods are edible.

Your comments and tips

15 Oct 18, Kathy J. (USA - Zone 8b climate)
Cowpeas are a staple here in the south. The town of Emerson, Arkansas has an annual purplehull pea festival & has a website with information on purplehull peas & many recipes you can try. www.purplehull.com There is even one for jelly using the hulls (spoiler alert: tastes like a mild grape). Purplehulls are a cowpea. What we have always been told was that cow peas weren't considered edible by most people. They came on the boats with slaves & that's who first were eating them. They were also given to livestock. An elderly neighbor told me never plant purplehulls until you hear the whipperwill. For us (Arkansas/Louisiana line, zone 8) that's usually mid-April. They will keep producing as long as you keep picking them. My elderly grandfather said instead of parboiling to can or freeze, just shell the peas & stick them (unwashed) in an old (but clean) pillowcase. As you want to cook them, get what you want out, wash & prepare/cook like normal. Tastes like fresh picked no matter how long its been.

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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. Gardenate is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
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