California Black Eyed Peas (Bush)
Seed Count: Approx. 20 Seeds
Days to Maturity: 75-80 Days
Bush variety, Cowpeas
Description: California Black Eyed peas is the most popular Southern variety of cowpeas. Black eyed peas are absolutely essential to soul food, and other various Southern cuisines. It is widely believed that it should be the first food eaten in the new year for luck and prosperity. George Washington Carver promoted the planting of Black Eyed peas, due to its nitrogen fixing qualities, and its nutritious values. The green pods grow to about 5-8 inches long, and hold cream colored seeds. Their name comes from the distinctly colored eye that may not always be black; sometimes they may be brown or purple. They are resistant to most diseases that usually affect beans and peas, which make them super easy to grow. They are nice and productive, and pack a delicious sweet flavor with a lovely creamy texture. Black Eyed Peas can be used freshly shelled or dried. However, it can be tricky knowing when to harvest them fresh. Once they're dried, their brown pods will indicate that they are ready to harvest. Serve up these hardy peas with collards or mustard greens, cornbread, and your choice of meat or vegetable based protein in order to enjoy a hardy Southern meal.
Mint2Grow Tip: Cowpeas thrive in the extreme heat of the South. They are extremely drought tolerant, and do well in our sandy soils. However, they do not tolerate cold. Cowpeas are relatively pest free, however, I have had issues with aphids in the past on a few cowpea varieties.
How To Grow
Sowing: You can sow cowpeas in average soil. They even do well in sandy soils. They tolerate poor soil,as well, and are often used to improve soil conditions. However, soil high in nutrients will vastly increase its productivity. Plant in a sunny location, after the soil has warmed. Cowpeas do not tolerate cold weather, so it is important to wait until all threat of frost has past. Sow seeds 2 inches apart, and cover with 1 inch of soil. Seedlings emerge in 10-14 days depending on soil and weather conditions. Once your seedlings are 1-2" high, you should thin your plants so that they are 3-4 inches apart. Cowpeas do not like to be transplanted, so direct sowing is best. Beans do great companion planted with beets, carrots, and cucumbers. However, avoid growing near all members of the allium family, and sunflowers.
Growing: Cowpeas do well with drought, and don't have to be watered excessively. About 1 inch of water per week during the growing season is sufficient. Make sure foliage has time to dry in order to reduce disease, and make sure to pull weeds, since they compete for nutrients and water. Cowpeas require warm days and nights in order to do produce well. These beans grow in a bush habit, and shouldn't need support. However, you can support them if they grow too heavy for themselves.
Harvesting: To harvest, wait until the pod is fully filled out, or you can wait until the pods are partially dry on the vine. Check vines often since this is a very productive plant. By picking your cowpeas often, you are encouraging more production. Afterwards, you can shell your peas, and put them to use. Fresh peas are best used immediately, but will keep in the fridge for several days. To save seeds, allow the pods to mature fully and dry on the vine. If frost or rainy weather threatens before your beans are dry, pull the plants and allow them to dry indoors. They should be completely dry 10-15 days later. Remove the seeds from the pods by hand, and store the seeds in a cool, dry place for up to 3 years. These beans will also freeze well, if blanched first.