Do you live someplace that gets good and hot in the summer? It doesn’t have to be a particularly long summer; a couple months of hot weather will suffice. And do you have a small plot of land? It doesn’t have to be particularly rich land, in fact, less rich is better for what I have in mind- so long as it has good sun exposure.
What I have in mind is growing black-eyed peas because black-eyed peas are n incredible garden vegetable.
That’s right, I mean a vegetable. I’m not talking about drying them into a dried bean- although you’ll want to do that with a few to generate seeds for the next year. But, believe me, it happens automatically because you’ll miss more than a few, which you’ll fail to harvest.
I mean eating them like a green bean, where you eat it pod and all. Yes, you can do that with black-eyed peas. In fact, even the leaves are edible. You can cook them like spinach or put them in a salad like spinach. Either way, they’re edible. But, I’m mainly interested in eating that green black-eyed pea, pod and all.
They are very tasty and very nutritious. What I do is just steam them for about 20 minutes, and then I dress them with extra virgin olive oil and little bit of sea salt. That’s it. And they are good eating.
They are loaded with protein, minerals, vitamins- even some alpha linolenic acid- the plant-based EFA. Of course, they are also high in fiber. There is very little that your body needs that can’t be found in a green black-eyed pea.
The beauty is that they are very easy to grow. I’ve been doing it every summer for over 20 years, and I haven’t had a crop failure yet. They love the heat, and once established, they don’t need a lot of water. If they have any plant diseases, they haven’t happened to my guys. And I haven’t had any insect problems either. I have grown them organically the whole time.
In fact, it’s important NOT to fertilize them too much- even with organic fertilizer. That’s because fertilizer stimulates them to grow foliage at the expense of fruit, the fruit being the black-eyed pea. Really, it’s a fruit because it develops from a very pretty white blossom. And they bear more heavily when the soil isn’t too rich.
And the other great thing is that, like all legumes, they increase the fertility of the soil because they set nitrogen.
For me, it’s a summertime ritual, and I wound up with a lot of seed this year, more than I intended. If you lived close, I’d give you some.
But, think about growing black-eyed peas next summer. They’re also called cowpeas. Because you never know: having some home-grown food may turn out to be crucial someday. The nutritional density of black-eyed peas and the ease of growing them make them an excellent choice for your home garden- whether or not you think of it as a survival garden.