Southern Pea Seeds - Florida Conch Pea, Bush


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Vigna unguiculata

HEIRLOOM. This now-rare Southern pea arrived in north Florida in the late 19th century, probably from the West Indies. Its tiny white seeds quickly became prized for their excellent flavor, delicate texture, and short cooking time. The first conch peas probably had a vining habit, and a strain of this type still exists, but ours are a bush type developed somewhat later as vining peas fell out of favor. They retain the same excellent culinary quality as their vining predecessors. This strain has been maintained by the Appalachain Seed Growers Collective in Western North Carolina for several years. Avg. 85 seeds per 10 gram packet.

Florida Conch Peas should be direct seeded in a location with full sun after all danger of frost has passed. “Shellies” will be ready in about 63 days, dry peas in about 90 days.

SMALL FARM GROWN by Spiderweb Acre Farm in Leicester, NC, a member of the Appalachian Seed Growers Collective. A portion of proceeds from each packet benefits the Collective's efforts to increase seed production capacity in Southern Appalachia and breed varieties that thrive in our region.

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  • Planting Information
  • Growing Information
  • Seed Saving Information
Seeds/PacketPacket WeightPlanting SeasonPlanting Method
 85 10 gafter last frostdirect seed
Seed DepthDirect Seed SpacingSoil Temp. RangeDays to Sprout
1-2"2-3"`65-90 ℉6-14
Mature SpacingSun RequirementFrost ToleranceDays to Harvest
2-4"full sunfrost-sensitive90

Southern Peas have both bush and pole types, just like traditional garden beans. Unlike pole green beans, you can grow southern peas that run without a trellis by planting close together and allowing the plants to essentially self-support. This really works best for plantings where you will let the peas dry on the plants for winter storage. 

Southern peas need plenty of sunlight to grow properly, so try to choose an area of your garden that receives full sun for your planting site. Unlike regular green beans, southern peas will thrive in the hottest part of summer, so they are a good choice to plant after some of your spring crops have finished. Cowpeas are also very easy to grow, tolerating all kinds of poor soil, though they will thrive in loamy soil.  

Cowpeas do not require a vast amount of nutrients, but a light application of fertilizer can help your plants produce a better crop. Use a shovel or trowel to mix the fertilizer into the top 3–4 inches of soil. 10-20-10 fertilizer is slightly richer in phosphorus than in nitrogen or potassium, so it is good for producing a strong crop yield. If you use a fertilizer high in nitrogen, then your plant will grow a lot of leaves but few peas.

Plant each seed about 1 inch deep in the ground. Each seed should also be about 3–6 inches apart and covered lightly with loose soil. If you're planting multiple rows of peas, leave 1–2 feet of room between each row.

Apply mulch to the soil where beans are planted. Standard wood chip mulch or straw works well with Southern Peas. Mulch can prevent the soil from getting too cool or too warm, and it also helps the soil retain moisture.

Sow additional seeds every 2 weeks. You can continue sowing Southern Pea seeds every 2 weeks if you want a continual harvest that lasts all summer and into fall. Stop planting new seeds 10 to 12 weeks before the first expected frost.

Southern Peas/Cowpeas/Field Peas, 

Vigna unguiculata

Pollination, insect; Life Cycle, annual; Isolation Distance, 20 feet

Southern peas are self-pollinating with perfect flowers. They can cross-pollinate, although it is rare as the flowers are only receptive to pollen for a very short time. To be safe, maintain a distance of 20 feet between variety rows. Leave the pods to dry on the plant, and when you've waited until the majority of pods, if not all, are dry, gently pull out the whole plant. The pods can be delicate and may shatter, so putting the plants directly on a tarp is a good idea. Allow plants to continue to dry out completely in a dry and shady place. Winnow seeds from chaff.