Cowpeas are a legume and will grow well in hot, dry climates. They are utilized all over the world as a valuable food source. Another benefit to the home gardener is the ability of cowpeas to fix nitrogen in the soil. If you have a new patch of ground you are gardening, plant cowpeas or another legume the first year to build up the nutrients in the soil. It will benefit other crops the following year.
The nutrition data listed for 1 cup of cowpeas (blackeye, crowder, southern), boiled with salt is:
- protein 13.2g
- carbohydrates 33.5g
- dietary fiber 11.1g
- sugars 5.6g
- Vitamins A, K
- omega 3 & 6 fatty acids
- calories 198
The differences between cooked peas and raw mature seeds is quite dramatic. Here are a few of the differences.
- protein 39.3g (26g more)
- carbohydrates 100g (66.5 more)
- dietary fiber 17.7g (6.6 more)
- calories 561 (a whopping 363 more)
Eating the peas raw, or feeding them to livestock raw will provide a much greater nutritional benefit. This is just another example of why we need to consume the water, broth or juice from the vegetables we cook. There are a tremendous amount of nutrients cooked out into the liquid.
I have been happy to discover that the chickens will peck at the dried pods to get the seeds out of them. That is a plus, since we won't have to shell them for chicken feed. The goats will eat the dried pods whole, seeds and all. They are like kids in a candy store when it comes to cowpeas, and I am very glad. It's an easy to grow crop that produces for about four months here. This will allow us to grow a very nutritional vegetable for both man and beast.
Other benefits of growing cowpeas include the ability to grow a lot of plants in a small space. When my friend Grace saw my pea patch she asked, "How are you going to pick those? They have all run together." Good question. I just walk where I know the rows once were. I like to utilize all of the ground in the garden, and this worked out well. If you prefer a garden with nice neat rows you can walk down and tend to your vegetables, my garden will drive you crazy. I plant everything very close with the goal of covering all of the available dirt in vegetables. If they kind of invade each other's space and overlap, that's okay with me. It gives me a few more meals instead of trying to deal with the grass and weeds that always take over empty spaces. And I have enough grass and weeds now, even with my overcrowding.
If your climate allows, I would recommend some type of cowpea for your garden. It is a great producer loaded with nutrition and it will help build up your soil. And even Frank the carnivore likes them. I think I will grow an even bigger patch next year.
Until next time - Fern