Southern peas, also known as field peas, crowder peas, blackeyed peas, and cowpeas, are annual crops that originated in Africa. These vining annuals thrive during hot weather in full sun and well-drained soil.
Learn how to grow Southern peas the right way so you'll enjoy a bountiful harvest comes Summer.
Grow Southern Peas Properly for a Massive Produce
What Is a Southern Pea?
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This member of the legume family is a very nutritious crop that can be shelled and eaten fresh. Crowder, cream, and black-eyed are the three main varieties of Southern peas.
- Crowder Peas. They are called crowder peas because the peas crowd themselves in their pods. These peas are popular in Southern soul food cuisine. Their rich and hearty flavors are some of the reasons to love them. It takes crowder peas 50 to 85 days to fully grow.
- Cream Peas. Zipper cream and fast lady Northern Southern peas are some of the known varieties of cream peas. They are milder than other varieties with a sweet and nutty taste. Wait for 70 to 95 days until the crops are ready for harvest.
- Black-eyed Peas. The white color and black spot around the seed scar make black-eyed peas easy to distinguish among other types. Black-eyed pea has a savory and strong earthy taste. It takes 60 to 90 days to mature.
Best Time And Location
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Just like beans, Southern peas have their cultural requirements too. Plant them 3 to 4 weeks after the last frost to make sure you have a warmer soil, at least 60°F.
A place where there is direct sunlight is the best spot for this summer vegetable.
Did you know that Southern peas are capable of improving poor soil? Their ability to produce nitrogen makes this feat possible. Like all legumes, Southern peas can produce their own nitrogen which is vital in root growth.
Step 1. Sow Properly
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Peas require a good amount of moisture before germination. That's why soaking pea seeds before planting is a great head start. Sow Southern peas 1 inch deep, 2 inches apart.
Do not plant Southern peas along potatoes, onions, and garlic. These plants in the allium family can stunt the growth of peas.
Step 2. Keep Them Healthy
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Southern pea thrives in soil with sufficient moisture. Though this vining plant can survive in harsh conditions, good irrigation is still necessary to make it fuller and healthier.
Direct the water to the base of plants towards the ground. This is the best way to water this summer vegetable to avoid flowers and small pods from falling off.
Southern peas help poor soil to become healthier, but the use of fertilizer is still needed in some instances. You must perform a soil test to determine what fertilizer is appropriate for your crops' needs.
Step 3. Deal with Pests
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Southern peas are also the target for several insect pests. The following are some of the pests to deal with:
It is the worst bug you need to watch out for. This black weevil feeds during early Summer when the pods are just starting to develop. There are two approaches to help you rid of this pest.
- Spraying fully grown with insecticide during the fruiting stage.
- Finding a location where curculios are not widespread.
This pest can infest pea sowings which can cause yield loss. They are soft-bodied insects who suck the nutrients out of plants. Aphids can multiply quickly, so you need to stop them before they reproduce.
Lucky for us, aphid control is easy. Spraying cold water on the leaves can simply get them under control. If there's a large aphid invasion already, try to dust the plants with flour to constipate the pests.
Red mites popularly known as spider mites are tiny pests who love to feed on your crops. They are more similar to spiders and are not considered as insects. Most red mites can create a silk webbing. Using insecticidal oils and soaps can help control the spread and reproduction of this pest.
Be sure to check the label first before applying insecticides as they can be harmful to the crop and to humans when not properly applied.
Step 4: Harvest and Store Southern Peas
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The best picking time for Southern peas is when you see that the pods have swollen and can be easily opened. The color is also a great indication of when to harvest your crops.
When the pods turned brown or yellow it's a good sign to pick them.
The pods are ready in 60 to 70 days for fresh consumption and 90 or more days for dry use. If the pods are not fully dry before frost, pulling the plants up is necessary.
To do that, you need to pull the root carefully then hang them up in a cool and dry location until the pods are completely dry.
Keep fresh Southern peas unshelled in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks while the dried and unshelled ones should be kept in a dry and cool place for 10 to 12 months.
How to Grow Southern Peas in a Container
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Container gardening obviously yields a smaller harvest than those in-ground plots. Despite less harvest, growing Southern peas in a pot or containers can be fun and will only require a lower cost.
Container-grown peas need more water, possibly up to three times a day. Frequent irrigation can leach out nutrients from the soil so the key to grow healthy peas in a container is through fertilization.
Watch this video by Scott Head as he shows you easy and simple ways to grow Southern peas in your garden:
Southern pea or cowpea is probably one the best addition to your vegetable garden. Aside from being excellent soil builders, they are a good source of heart-healthy nutrients. And they taste good, too!
Once you've learned the right way of growing this Summer crop, you'll enjoy growing them any time of the year.
Do you have experience growing Southern peas in your backyard? Share your tips in the comments section below.
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