Should You Grow Cowpeas In The Fall?
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Should You Grow Cowpeas In The Fall?

Should You Grow Cowpeas In The Fall?

Introduction

Hey Neighbor! Tonight we’re talking everything cowpeas! What is a Cowpea? Are Cowpeas and Field Peas the same thing? What are Cowpea growth habits and traits? Where can I grow cowpeas? We’re doing a deep dive ya’ll! Tons of great information. We’re located in Zone 8b and if you don’t know by now, you can grow more Cowpeas/Field Peas in the Fall and that’s just what we’re doing. Just in case you want to do the same, be sure to watch this video for all the growing tips & tricks you’ll need to be successful! Let’s Grow Together and Get Dirty!

What is a Cowpea?

Depending on what part of the country you’re from, you may be familiar with cowpeas and field peas. What you may not know is that they are actually the same thing, just with different names. Here in the South, cowpeas or field peas are a long-time staple of southern cuisine because of their exceptional eating quality and how well they grow in our warmer climate.

This low maintenance crop is not only delicious but they are also legumes and are great for fixing nitrogen in your soil as a cover crop. While we do know them as peas, cowpeas and field peas actually have less in common with traditional green English peas and are more like beans. The best way to decide on which cowpea to grow in your garden is to first look at their qualities.

Our favorites:

Mississippi Pinkeye Purplehull Pea

Mississippi Purplehull Pea

Lady Cream Pea

Top Pick Pinkeye Pea

White Acre Pea

Zipper Cream Pea

California Blackeye No. 5 Pea

Dixie Lee Pea

Texas Big Boy Pea

Texas Creme 40 Pea

Sa Dandy Cream Pea

Indeterminate vs determinate pea?

Just like tomatoes, there are determinate peas (those that grow to a certain height and then produce pods) and indeterminate peas (those that grow and produce pods for the full life of the plant). Indeterminate peas need about an eight foot structure of netting, mesh, or chicken wire, which can be held up with metal or wood posts and attached with zip ties or twine. Some of our indeterminate varieties include.

Cowpea Growth Habits & Traits

The growth habit of some cowpeas like the Top Pick Pinkeye is much like that of determinate tomatoes in that they only grow in a compact, bushy habit. These compact varieties can be planted in long, double rows that will help support each other as the plants mature side by side.

Other varieties like the Red Ripper Pea grow in a more indeterminate habit and have long trailing vines. While you can trellis these varieties, they don’t have the tendrils like green peas do to wrap around and climb in the traditional way. We tend to let these varieties trail outward naturally.
Another good way to determine what kind of cowpeas to grow is by taking a look at how easy they are to harvest, shell, and store.

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