By Vanessa Richins
When I was little, I was fascinated by black-eyed peas.
I had never eaten them, but somehow decided that they were a plant I needed to grow.
Perhaps it was the fact that they looked like a little eye.
I bought packets of seeds yearly. I don’t think I ever harvested any, but I kept buying seeds.
Hopefully you’ll have better success with this Southern favorite – Vigna unguiculata, also known as Cowpeas. Did you know they come from Africa?
When you are choosing a variety, look to see whether it is a vining variety or not. You will want to build some sort of support, like a trellis, for the vining varieties.
Black-eyed peas are a warm season vegetable, so you will want to wait until your last frost date has passed. Test your soil to make sure that it is at least 65 degrees for best results. Choose a location that gets full sun and drains well. Add compost to enrich the soil.
Poke a hole that is 1″ deep and place the seed inside. Seeds should be about 4″ apart in a row, and rows should be 3′ apart. It will take 7-10 days for the black-eyed peas to germinate.
For best results, water frequently, but be careful not to get the leaves wet (attracts fungal diseases). Fertilize with a 1-2-1 or 1-2-2 fertilizer formula monthly.
You may want to put netting around your black-eyed peas, since deer and rabbits like to nibble. They are also prone to insect damage, wilts and bacterial diseases.
You can eat young leaves and pods. For the black-eyed peas, leave on the plant until the pod has dried.
Have you grown black-eyed peas?