Pinkeye Purple Hull Cowpea Seed Packet
Old Timer Speckled Cowpea
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Approx 80 seeds
days to maturity: 65 days
plant spacing: 4-8 per square foot
sunlight requirements: 8-14 hours
look out for: aphids on the flowers and young beans
harvest notes: harvest green for fresh eating or dried out for storage beans
Southern Peas or “cowpeas” are a staple food crop grown throughout the hot and dry regions of Africa and are one of the oldest crops to be farmed. A 1997 estimate suggested that cowpeas are cultivated on 31 million acres and eaten by 200 million people on a daily basis worldwide. They are an incredibly important staple crop for many populations because they grow in dry, hot and poor soils and they contain 24% protein by weight. The entire plant is edible from the leaves (cooked) to the shoots and the beans are edible at all stages of growth from young and green to mature and dried.
Cowpeas were brought to the Southern regions of America by enslaved peoples from Africa and have become an important ingredient in the traditional cuisine of the South, with many different heirloom varieties with names like “rattlesnake”, “whippoorwill”, “Red Ripper” and “calico” being given to them based on their varieties of colors, splotches and speckles. Cowpeas are technically bush beans which means they grow as a bush instead of a vine however they do vine just a bit when they’re mature so if you give them a low trellis they can be easier to handle and harvest but if you don’t trellis them they will use their growing tendrils to grab on to each other instead.