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Southern Pea

Common Names: Southern pea, Field, Crowders, Black eyed, Purple hulls, and Creams.

Botanical Name: Vigna sinensis

Family: Leguminosae

Type and Use: Annual with edible peas (seed)

Location: Full sun

Planting Dates: After the last frost in the spring and after the soil has warmed to 70°. Fall crops are planted 90-120 days before the first average frost. In general, April 1 - August 15.

Planting Method: For best results, plant seed (peas) in raised beds 16-24 inches wide and 36-48 inches apart. Treat the seed with seaweed and rhizobia bacteria (nitrogen-fixing bacteria. There should be enough moisture in the soil for germination. Put seeds into furrows 1-1/2 inches deep in sand or 1 inch in clay. Sow at 4-5 per foot of row and cover with garden soil. Thin to 4-8 inches when 3-4 inches tall.

Seed Emergence: 5-10 days in warm soil

Harvest Time: About 70-90 days after planting. Southern peas can be harvested at three stages: 1) green snap, 2)green mature, and 3)dry

Height: Varies greatly

Spread: Varies greatly

Final spacing: Bush type. 4-6 inches, vining type 8 inches

Growth Habits: Peas germinate poorly in cool soil so don’t get in a hurry. Southern peas are either bush-type or climbers.

Culture: Warm weather vegetable that is relatively easy to grow. They are legumes so the natural nitrogen helps to reduce fertilizer inputs. Peas grow well in most soils but best in loose, well-drained healthy soils. In clay soils us compost, lava sand, Texas greensand, sugar, and organic fertilizer. In sandy soils use soft rock phosphate or high calcium lime instead of Texas greensand. Mulch around plants to prevent crusting. Raindrops hitting bare soil is a major cause of crusting and compaction. Fertilize the second time after the first harvest. Most southern peas don’t like high fertility. Plant in the sorriest soil of your garden.

Troubles and Solutions: For iron chlorosis apply Texas greensand. For cutworms and other caterpillars use citrus based products or Bt products. For aphids, weevils, stink bugs, thrips, control with the BOP (Basic Organic Program), citrus sprays, neem sprays and Garrett Juice plus garlic/pepper/seaweed. Soil-borne diseases are controlled with cornmeal at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet and/or other biological products. Control nematodes with citrus pulp. Too much or too little water can drastically reduce production. Keep the soil fairly moist and well mulched.

Harvest and Storage: Harvest peas when they are young as snap peas, harvest as green mature once the color starts to change on the beans, and wait for full maturity for harvesting dry peas. They will store best and the longest as dry mature peas. Snaps and green matures should be stored in the refrigerator if not eaten right away.

Notes: Also called cow peas, field peas, black-eyed peas, purple hulls, creams and crowders. Avoid seed that has been treated with toxic fungicides. They are often pink in color - sometimes blue. Difference in beneficial nodules and the domestic root knot nematodes. Beneficial nitrogen fixing nodules are loosely attached to the outside of roots. The harmful nematodes cause swelling of the roots from the inside.

Varieties: ‘Big Red Ripper’, ‘Texas Pink-Eye’, ‘Black-eye #5’, ‘Purple hull’, ‘Crowder’, ‘Silver skin’, ‘Cream 40’, ‘Zipper’, ‘Calico’.

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