The Q&A Archives: Thinning Black Eyed Peas

Question: We are about to leave on vacation and I want to thin out my black-eyed peas. I planted one seed every inch/inch-and-a-half. How much space should I leave between each black-eyed pea plant?

Answer: Southern Pea (V. unguinculata) - This plant is also known as the Cowpea. It is an important hot-weather vegetable for gardens in the South and warm West. These produce when the weather is too hot and humid for snap beans and arrive in time to go with okra. Southern peas are tropical plants with seeds more like beans than peas. They may be erect and busy, or sprawling and vigorous with short runners. They have shiny, dark green leaves about the size of snap beans. The pods stick out from amidst the foliage on long stems. They grow 2 to a stem and their length ranges from 6 to 9 inches. They may be thin, chubby, smooth, or lumpy and white, cream or purple. Southern peas may be eaten like green beans when they're young or shelled for their green seeds.

Southern pea varieties differ in height and breadth - some try to mimic runaway pumpkin vines. Instead of the 46-inch width often recommended, I plant my Colossus in double rows 30 inches apart, and separate them from adjoining crops by about 42 inches.

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