Cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata), also known as Southern peas or field peas, are a versatile crop — so versatile, they could be considered the vegetable version of a Swiss army knife. They can produce nutritious greens, snap beans, shell beans, and even dry beans, which can be ground into flour for a gluten-free grain substitute.

Beyond the table, cowpeas are useful as ground cover, weed suppression, green manure, and forage for livestock. The vines can even be mown and baled as hay, the matured bean pods adding extra nutrition. They flourish in poor, dry soils, and, being legumes, leave the soil richer than they find it.

Some varieties vine, while others bush, but all do well in full sun and high temperatures, making them perfect for Southern, Midwestern, and West Coast gardens

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