What Are Field Peas?
Field pea is a type of legume. They are one of the most common types of food eaten worldwide. They are used as animal feed or for human consumption. There are many varieties of field peas, but they all have similar characteristics. These include having a small seed, being edible when cooked, and having a short life span (about two weeks). However, some varieties may last longer than three months!
The seeds of field peas are not edible unless ground into a meal. Most commonly, these meals consist of cornmeal, which is then mixed with water to make a paste. Other ingredients include sugar, salt, and sometimes other spices such as garlic or cayenne pepper.
Many people eat them raw or boiled in soups or stews. Some people use them like pasta in sauces and gravies; others add them to baked goods such as breads and cakes.
How Do You Grow Field Peas?
There are several ways to grow field peas. The easiest way is to simply plant them in rows along your garden beds. If you don’t want to do that, you can also try planting them in containers or hanging baskets. Another option is to hang them from trees or shrubs and let nature take its course. For those who prefer gardening over horticulture, there are also perennial options available for growing field peas.
The most common varieties of field peas are chickpeas, black-eyed peas, yardlong beans, and king peas. These peas grow best in areas with mild winters and hot, humid summers. All varieties will grow better if they have lots of sun exposure and space to grow (at least four feet between the rows).
Before planting your seeds, prepare your growing soil by adding lots of organic material such as rotted leaves or grass clippings.
If you are planting the peas in rows, make sure to space the rows at least three feet apart (more space is even better). In each row, place the seeds at least an inch deep and three inches apart. Lightly cover them with soil and water them well.
After that, all you have to do is keep them watered and watch them grow. You should also keep an eye out for any pests or diseases and take prompt action if you see anything wrong.
If you want to grow your field peas up a trellis or other structure, space the plants at least a foot apart. For the first three weeks after planting, keep the seedlings watered and well-lit (at least six hours of sunlight per day). After that, you can water them less frequently but continue keeping an eye on their growth.
You’ll want to train the plants to grow up a trellis or other support structure within their first few month of life.
If you’re planting your peas in the ground, make sure that you’re growing them in well-drained soil. It’s also recommended that you mix in some compost before planting. If you have highly acidic soil, it’s recommended that you work some lime into your soil before planting.
You’ll need to add some fertilizer to the soil as well. You can either mix in some animal manure or buy some chemical fertilizer. No matter what you use, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Harvesting Your Peas
You can harvest your peas within two months after planting them (it may take longer for king peas, which are a late variety). For harvesting purposes, you should pinch off the pea pods when they are young and tender. After harvesting, it’s a good idea to add more fertilizer and organic matter.
If you’re growing your peas in containers, you may need to transplant them after their first harvest (otherwise, they’ll probably outgrow their container by then).
If you want to save seeds for planting next year, you should allow the pods to dry out before removing the seeds. You’ll need to let the seeds dry out some more before storing them. Most varieties of peas can be stored for around one year before they lose their germination ability.
If you’re still not quite sure about how to grow field peas, there are lots of online resources that cover the topic in greater detail. Do a google search or look through the information available on the seed packet (if you bought seeds). If all else fails, you can always ask your neighbors or look up information in your local library.
Gaining experience is the best way to learn!
Every year, I plant a half-dozen or so pots of field peas. Usually, I plant them in large pots that are at least a few years old so they are well-established. Over the years, I’ve found that “Golden Cross” peas do the best for me (they’re a type of green bean but are harvested when young and tender like a shell pea).
I usually end up with a big enough harvest that I can give some peas away to family and neighbors.
Sources & references used in this article:
Production and functionality of starches and protein isolates from legume seeds (field peas and horsebeans) by JR Vose – Cereal Chemistry (USA), 1980 – agris.fao.org
Just eat peas and dance: Field peas (Vigna unguiculata) and food security in the Ozark Highlands, US by BC Campbell – Journal of ethnobiology, 2014 – BioOne
The epidemiology and control of ascochyta blight in field peas: a review by TW Bretag, PJ Keane, TV Price – Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 2006 – CSIRO