How to grow vegetable cowpea – the secrets of a bountiful harvest
Tell us how to grow vegetable cowpea? Once a friend treated me to stewed beans, cut into long pieces, very soft and juicy. I thought it was asparagus, but it turned out to be a cowpea. And when I saw how the bush entwined the arch and decorated it with blue flowers, there was no more doubt. Taking with me a bag of seeds, I returned home in a decisive mood and have such a miracle for myself. But I doubt how to plant it: we have a late spring, probably, you can’t go straight to the garden. Maybe seedlings are better? I confess that I never planted beans through seedlings.
Cowpea in garden beds is still not often found, but slowly it is confidently replacing asparagus beans. Its long and thin pods are softer than regular asparagus due to their less fibrous structure. In addition, there is nothing difficult in how to grow vegetable cowpea. It grows like our regular beans, with almost the same planting and maintenance requirements. But it ripens much earlier and will delight you with a plentiful and tasty harvest that can be harvested all summer long. And the curly lashes of plants, dexterously climbing the support, will create a picturesque arch with amazing colorful flowering..
By its nature, cowpea is a tropical plant that came to us from distant Africa. Therefore, when growing it, one should take into account the increased requirements of the culture for heat and light. In general, it is quite acclimatized to our conditions and unpretentious beans, just with very long pods. It can grow as a bush, but more often has long thin shoots, reaching 5 m.
Features of planting cowpea depending on the growing climate
Like all legumes, cowpea is planted with seeds, well-ripened beans.. Given the increased requirements for temperature, the method and timing of planting depend on the region and weather conditions:
- In the southern strip, it is possible to plant the cowpea immediately in the open ground. But this can be done not earlier than stable warm weather is established (not lower than 15 ° C). The soil should warm up to 10 °, usually at the end of April. Beans should be laid out in holes 2-3 pieces each, leaving at least 45 cm between them.If all the seeds sprout, leave one of the strongest plants in each hole, and remove the rest.
- For the middle lane, planting cowpea is possible only through seedlings. For seedlings, seeds must be planted a month before planting in open ground. This is roughly the end of March – beginning of April. It is better to plant one by one – cowpea seedlings do not tolerate picking well. On the garden bed, the grown bushes can be planted at the end of April – at the beginning of May..
- In the northern regions, cowpea is grown mainly in greenhouses. It is convenient to plant it immediately in rows with a row spacing of 50 cm and a distance between bushes from 30 cm.
Given that the shell of the beans is dense, it is advisable to soak them before planting. And for the prevention of diseases, the seeds must be disinfected in a solution of potassium permanganate.
How to grow vegetable cowpea: planting care
It is better to place the cowpea beds on the sunny side of the site, where there is no wind. Its gusts can tear the long lashes of the plant, and lack of light will reduce yields. The site needs to be dug up in the fall with the introduction of humus.
The cowpea can be planted in the same place no earlier than after 3 years. Although the plant enriches the soil with nitrogen, it selects many other useful substances from it. The best predecessors are nightshades, crucifers and cucumbers..
Caring for cowpea vegetable is akin to growing beans and consists in simple measures:
- Weeding and gently loosening the beds between the bushes that have grown.
- Watering as needed. It is impossible to fill in – the culture does not tolerate stagnant moisture. But it is also impossible to allow the soil to dry out, otherwise the ovary will fall off.
- Top dressing by alternating organic matter (mullein infusion) and mineral preparations (superphosphate, potassium chloride).
- It is imperative to install a support along which long shoots of cowpea will trail.
It is better to pick the pods when they are young, after about 10 days, as they have formed. At this stage, the cowpea is soft and juicy. The pods can be cut and frozen. At the same time, the plant bears fruit almost until autumn, and cutting off young pods stimulates the appearance of a new ovary. To collect seeds, you need to allow them to fully ripen and become dry..