News Article for June 20, 2011:
The hot weather has taken its toll on vegetable gardening and just about anything else that grows. It has been way too hot for this time of the year and many of our traditional spring garden crops have had a difficult time with the combination of heat and drought.
As you finish harvesting crops in the garden, you might want to consider additional summer crops that are not very high maintenance. This can extend your vegetable production season and give yourself an opportunity to can or freeze some for the off season. An obvious choice would be southern peas.
Peas are legumes that fix nitrogen from the air and do not require nitrogen fertilizers. You can usually get by without using additional fertilizer when following another spring vegetable. The peas will utilize any residual fertilizer left over from your previous crop. After you harvest the peas you can till the plant material into the garden and use it to boost the organic matter and fertility of the soil.
Peas can be planted from March to August. They require about 60-70 days from planting until harvest.
When planting, space out the pea seed every 4 to 6 inches within the row and plant at a depth of about ½ inch. At that spacing it will take about 4-6 ounces of seed to plant a 100 foot row.
There are four types of southern peas that you might consider. Those pea types are purple hull, crowder, black-eyed and creamer. Many of the varieties of peas on the market will fit into more than one of these pea types. Within the varieties you can find both vining and non vining growth patterns.
The most common pea grown here is purple hull peas. Its distinguishing characteristic is that the pods will turn purple once they are ready to harvest. Purple hull varieties that are vining types include Pinkeye Purple Hull and Mississippi Pinkeye Purple. Non vining varieties are Texas Pinkeye, Quick Pic and Top Pick Pinkeye.
Crowder peas are appropriately named because the peas are crowded into the pod so tightly that the peas are press up next to one another. Recommended vining varieties include Mississippi Purple, Mississippi Silver, Mississippi Shipper and Dixie Lee. Top Pic Crowder is a non vining Crowder variety.
Black-eyed peas are a very familiar New Years Day tradition. They include pea varieties with a dark black eye. Recommended varieties of black-eyed peas would include Magnolia Blackeye and Queen Ann, which are both non vining.
Cream peas are probably the least grown locally but are very tasty. These peas will have light green or white seed which do not turn dark when cooked and the pot liquor comes out clear. Zipper Cream is a recommended vining variety, while Top Pick Cream and Elite are non vining selections.
If you are new to planting peas start with the purple hull variety, it makes it easier to determine when to pick. A good yield for peas is about a bushel to the row. It will take a few weeks and picking every 4 -5 days to get the crop harvested.
After you finish with peas it will be time to start thinking about fall crops.
For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.