Won’t Be Long Now!! — Another Cowpea Project Update

I’m happy to report that my rookie season growing cowpeas is proceeding nicely so far. As I mentioned in my first posting on this topic, I started this venture with two varieties: California Blackeyed #46 and Pinkeyed Purplehull. These two varieties were planted about a week apart in early to mid May. The Blackeyed peas, which were planted first, now have numerous pods on them, and should be ready to harvest before too much longer.


As shown clearly in the picture below, the pods are growing (mostly) in pairs, forming the shape of the letter V.


The Pinkeyed Purplehull are, as expected, a little behind, but they are starting to produce some pods such as the one visible below. The pods are not purple yet, but they should turn purple as the peas mature.


The second wave of cowpea planting took place over the Memorial Day holiday at the end of May. In this planting, I added three more varieties: Mississippi Silver, Red Ripper, and SaDandy. I chose these varieties to give myself a good cross-section sampler of these plants. They are all coming along nicely, just about as expected, as shown in the pictures below.

Here are the Mississippi Silvers:


The next picture shows the Red Rippers. As I mentioned previously, I placed a trellis in the middle of them because they reportedly produce vines and like to climb. I’m not seeing any vines yet, but I won’t be surprised to see them about the time the plants start blooming.

As an aside, those of you with keen eyes may notice the empty space between the cowpeas and the fence in these two pictures (above and below). Until a few days ago, I had a row of white half runner beans planted there. We had several meals’ worth of those, but the plants had run their course, so I had to retire them to the compost bin. I’m planning to plant my Nickell Beans in that space in September. In the meantime, I’m trying to decide whether to plant a short-season crop there or to let it lie fallow or what. If I plant something there, I’d like it to be something other than a legume, so that I don’t have three crops of legumes in a row.


Anyway, back to the cowpeas, the last variety of the second wave, SaDandy peas, are shown below.


Although not a cowpea, I did plant another type of hot climate legume at the same time, and am including them with the cowpea project. Pigeon Peas, native to India and highly popular in the Bahamian dish called Peas ‘n Rice, are found throughout the Caribbean region in various local cuisines. I only planted two small hills of these, as they are supposed to grow into fairly good sized bushes. One of these hills is doing quite well, as shown in the next picture.


The second hill, just a few feet away from the first, is looking rather pitiful as you can see. I don’t know enough about these to even speculate as to why. Only time will tell whether they start to do better as the season progresses. Pigeon Peas are slow to mature, so it could easily be Christmas before we see any on the dinner table.


The third wave of cowpeas, as reported in the Cowpea Project Update post, was planted in the middle of June. That wave include three varieties: California Blackeyed 46, Pinkeyed Purplehull, and Mississippi Silver. These were all planted in available space within the blueberry bed. As regular readers may recall, I was not sure how they would do in the acidic soil of that bed. I can now report that they seem to like it just fine, as you can see below.


The only ones that are not doing well are the ones that suffered an attack of sudden-onset squirrel foot wilt. This is a disease that happens when I forget to sprinkle cayenne pepper over newly-planted seeds or around young seedlings following a rain. I know with absolute certainty that this is what got them, because I was tethered to a conference call, watching helplessly out the window, while the little furry-tailed bugger happily dug around in those two squares.


I haven’t planted a fourth wave yet, but I’m thinking about it. I still have seeds on hand for each of these varieties except for the Mississippi Silver. The limiting factors are space (including reserved space for my fall garden) and hours in the day.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Lovely range of varieties!


  2. Posted by Fredrik Coulter on July 8, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    I’ve just started my Central Florida garden (http://fredssfgarden.wordpress.org), and went to the Florida Extension Service web site to see what would grow. I’m only working with a four foot by four foot square and wanted to avoid the mass harvesting that comes from planting everything at once. So I’ve been planting one square of California Blackeye #5 every Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see how they turn out.

    By the way, you’re not limited to blackeyed peas in Florida summers. You’ve also got sweet potatoes and okra to play with.

    Counting the days until August, when the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021) gives me a lot more options. (Also, I should have more planting sites available in the fall.)


    • Hi! Glad to make the connection! I’m following your blog now, so hopefully we’ll be able to compare notes going forward.

      One difference I noticed was it looked like we’re using different spacing for our blackened peas. I used 2 inch spacing, which works out to 16/square, but it looks like yours are spaced at 4 inches, or 4/square. I’m using the California 46 instead of #5, but that shouldn’t make too much difference. Should be interesting to see how they compare at the end of the season…

      I have some okra going as well, but haven’t planted any sweet potatoes yet. I don’t believe any of my beds are deep enough. I bought some wood to build an extension for one of my squares, but I keep getting busy with other things and forget to actually build it. And right now, I’m out of empty squares, although I should have one open within the next week. Maybe I’ll remember to build the extension and plant some sweet potatoes after all!

      I actually have that IFAS document downloaded to my iPad; I refer to it often. Like you, I’m counting down the days to August. By September, things should really loosen up!



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