21 September 2013, by gj
This is the first time we have tried growing cowpeas, also known as black eyed peas, and found the experience to be quite delightful.
They are a semi-vining crop, and did well both with a trellis and without. We tried two varieties, a Grey Speckled Palapye that is described by Baker Creek seed company as one that is well suited for the North; and Risina Del Trasiorfino, an even smaller bean coming from a more compact plant.
They are easy enough to grow. Plant after all danger of frost. Put seeds in twice the depth of the size of the seed, about an inch. Water.
Care for them the way you would any beans.
Trellis or let them sprawl.
We planted the gray peas with the corn, and they are almost done producing and just shortly after the corn had finished. Good timing to try some mache or shut the bed down.
You can eat the beans fresh like a snap bean or allow to dry on the plant.
We chose the latter as we are looking for a supply of dry produce for the winter months.
The only problem we had with growing cowpeas is that the seeds are just so tiny. You get a lot per pod, but still it seemed as though they did not give us the yield we are used to getting from other types of dry beans.
But then we haven’t eaten them yet, and are wondering if the flavor compensates. If you have any insight on this, please let us know.
Botanical name: Vigna unguiculata
Hardiness: Can take the heat and lack of water, perfect for growing in warmer climates but did well here in the North.
Yield: One seed will produce many side shoots bearing 2 long beans. Each bean then provides many seeds.
Storage: Can be frozen as snap beans. We preferred to allow to dry in the pod. Store in an air tight container.