Southern Peas

Confusing as it may sound, the vegetable most southerners call peas is, botanically speaking, neither a pea nor a bean. Black-eyeds, crowders and creams are the best-known southern "peas." In the North, these "peas" are called shell beans. They can be grown successfully in the North as well as in the South. Unlike green peas, southern peas need warm soil to germinate. The cool, damp weather that English peas love is exactly what southern peas dislike. Because they're drought resistant, excess moisture may cause a reduced yield. Southern peas grow just as well in wide rows as English peas. Blackeyes account for two-thirds of the Southern peas grown commercially in the United States. Blackeye peas are a lustrous green with burgundy eyes at the green stage. Seeds dry white with black eyes. They are popular because of their mild flavor. Crowders that you may be familiar with are Colossus and Mississippi Silver. They are named crowders because of the squarish shape they develop from being crowded against each other in the pod. Many crowder peas ripen from light greenish yellow at the green shell stage to light brown when dry. Crowders are often the largest peas: they are also the strongest flavored with a granular texture. Creams are especially popular in the green shell stage. These small peas ripen from light green to creamy white. They’re sweet and mild and non-starchy. They have little to no eye pigment and make a great choice for northern gardeners since they can reach maturity in only 52 days. There is a whole host of other varieties that may or may not fall into these definitions. Called fields peas, many are heirloom varieties.

The term "cowpea" can refer to any southern pea; the name dates back to when the farmers grew the peas as forage for cows and horses. Most soils will produce a good crop, but medium fertility with pH of 5.8 to 6.5 is desirable. High fertility produces excessive vine growth and poor yields so don't fertilize. Added manure and some bonemeal and wood ash is all that is required. Inoculants of nitrogen fixing bacteria may increase yield especially in soils where Southern peas have not been grown previously. Begin seeding when soil temperature reaches 60°F and continue until 80 days before fall frost. Weed suppression is important once the plants are up and growing. So mulch heavily with grass clippings or old leaves. Typical spacing is 3-5 inches apart in rows 30 inches apart. They also do fine spaced 8 inches apart in asquare grid arrangement. Plants grow 10-20 inches tall and can spread 20-42 inches. Plant 1 inch deep. Picked when the pods are still green, southern peas can be shelled, boiled and served in the same manner as English peas. However, don't expect the same sugar content found in English peas; southern peas contain much higher levels of starch. Pick when pods are plump. The purple hulled varieties should show about 50% purple on the pod. Green hulled varieties should show slight yellowing on the pod.

You can also leave southern peas on the vine to fully mature and dry. If your growing season ends before the peas are thoroughly dry, either pull the vines and hang them in a well-ventilated area, or shell the peas and dry them in the sun or in a dehydrator. Diseases like root-knot nematodes and pest like the cowpea curculo are best controlled by planting varieties that are resistant to them. The best protection against disease is to rotate your corps, allow enough space between plants to discourage mildew and plant in high rows if your drainage is poor.


New beds for landscape plants should be amended before any plants go into the ground. For long-term benefits, choose an amendment that breaks down slowly. Shredded bark and peat moss hold their structure the longest, taking several years to decompose. It's a good idea to include compost in the mix as well; though it breaks down injust a few months, it bolsters the initial nutrient supply available to soil microorganisms--and these will contribute humus to the soil, improve soil aeration, and help protect your new plants from some diseases. In beds earmarked for vegetables and annual flowers, amend the soil before each new crop is planted. Compost and well-rotted manure are preferred by most gardeners, since they dramatically improve the soil's structure, making it hospitable to the fine, tiny roots of seedlings. Unamended soil may dry into hard clods that small roots cannot penetrate, and plants may grow slowly, be stunted, or die as a result. Manure and compost break down rapidly--manure in a few weeks, compost in several months--so be sure to replenish these amendments before you plant each crop. Permanent or semi-permanent plantings of trees, shrubs, or perennials benefit from soil amendment too, but you need to do the job without damaging plant roots. It's often sufficient simply to spread the amendment over the soil surface as a mulch; earthworms, microorganisms, rain, and irrigation water will all carry it downward over time, gradually improving the soil's top layer. If the plant isn't a shallow-rooted type (that is, if it doesn't have many roots concentrated near soil level), you can speed up the improvement processby working the amendment into the top inch or so of soil, using a three-pronged cultivator.  Where the climate is generally mild and winters are rainy, amend the soil in established plantings annually after fall cleanup. In cold-winter regions with spring and summer rainfall, do the job as you begin spring gardening.


Potatoes will often develop wilts and blights. Cut off any plants that do not look healthy and put in the trash; do not compost. The potatoes are fine to eat, but they may not store well if they haven't had time to develop thick skins. Remember to hill or mulch your potatoes to prevent them from turning green.



Triangular shaped and green or brown. Green stink bugs are about 14-19mm long whereas brown ones are slightly smaller, 5-15mm long. Adults are strong fliers and can move readily from crop to crop. Like their name says.....they emit a terrible odor. These guys are gross! Stinkbugs are found throughout the United States and in parts of Southern Canada. Brown stink bugs found all over and green ones are mostly found in Texas and as far as the Atlantic coast. In some states there can be more than one generation a year.  They overwinter in protected areas, garden debris and other trash lying around emerge and lay eggs. The eggs are yellow to  green and very tiny. They emerge into nymphs and eventually full grown in host plants. They feed on many ornamentals, vines, weeds, and many cultivated crops. They feed heavily on weeds and then move on to other garden crops like soybean, beans, corn, peas, okra and anything else they can find nearby. As well as damaging plants they can cause spots and blemishes on fruits. They transmit yeast-spot disease organism. They cause distortion and discoloration in fruits. They can wreck havoc in garden if not controlled at the earliest signs.


1) Introduce Predators

Stinkbugs biggest enemies are birds. Attract birds with birdhouses and bird baths around your garden. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are also stink bug destroyers. They lay eggs on larva and eggs eventually killing the bugs.

2) Hand Pick

Gently shake the plants they are on and they will fall to the ground. Placing a piece of cardboard with something sticky on it will keep them there. Destroy the pests.

Crush the eggs as soon as you see them appear.

3) Homemade Soap Sprays

Garlic/Pepper Tea

Liquefy 3 bulbs of garlic and 5 cayenne peppers in a blender with two cups of water. Strain off all the solids and add enough water to make a gallon of liquid - This is your concentrate. Use only 1/4 cup of concentrate to a make gallon of solution.  For an additional punch, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil or horticultural oil to each gallon of water in your sprayer. Be sure and wear gloves when working with peppers.


Yarrow has feathery, fern-like gray-green foliage that looks great in the garden even when it's not blooming. It grows 12 to 42 inches tall, depending on the variety. The bright long- lasting flowers are yellow, white, red, rose, pink, salmon, and light lavender. It begins blooming in June. It is considered by some gardeners to be a weed. The white blooming variety can be especially evasive. Yarrow grows in full sun or in partial shade and is drought resistant. Yarrows can be started from seed in late winter, then transplanted in early spring or can be divided from established clumps in the early spring or in the fall. Blooms can be dried. Cut them and hang them upside down in a well ventilated area for several weeks. Yarrow is known globally as a medicinal herb and contains over 120 compounds. It has diaphoretic, styptic, tonic, and astringent properties. When planted near aromatic herbs, yarrow enhances essential oil production. It also repels Japanese beetles, ants and flies.



"Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is a triumph of hope over experience."





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