Planting purple hull peas is akin to planting black-eyed peas since these two legumes are kissin" cousins. Members of the southern pea family (Vigna unguiculata), purple hulls also thrive in other parts of the United States, especially those with long periods of heat. Unlike common peas, which thrive in cold weather, southern peas resemble beans in their love for warm weather.
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Sow your first purple hull peas in April or May -- whenever air temperatures are reliably above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and soil temperatures are above 60 degrees. For a continued harvest, sow peas every two weeks. Purple hulls are bush-type legumes that appreciate a support structure such as stakes or tepee trellises.
Spread a 3-inch layer of compost over your planting area, and work the layer into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil.
Create raised rows by digging trenches about 6 inches deep and a spade"s width wide. Pile the soil from the trenches onto the ground in front of each trench, creating raised rows between the trenches.
As an option to the trench method, consider growing purple hull peas in a raised bed, in which they"ll prosper because of the warm soil created by the beds. If you plan to sow purple hull seeds successively, create at least twice as many rows as you intend to plant at the first sowing.
Set stakes 4 inches apart into the raised rows or install a trellis or wire netting to support the growth of the vines. Growing on a support also keeps the purple hull peas off the ground where mud will soil them.
Water the soil so that the ground becomes moist, but not wet. Continue to water the soil around the peas throughout their growing season in order to keep the soil evenly moist.
Thin seedlings to 4 inches apart when the seedlings are 3 inches tall. Choose the hardiest-looking seedlings to continue growing, and cut the remaining seedlings at the base of each seedling.
Sow new seeds about two weeks later in raised, staked rows. Continue planting successively every two weeks, if desired. After you harvest the first rows of peas, remove the plants so that you may replant the rows with new seeds.
Things You Will Need
Wooden stakes or bamboo poles (about 4-6 feet in height)
Water purple hull peas with compost tea or another low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer halfway through their growing season. Because peas "fix" nitrogen into the soil, too much extra nitrogen cause an imbalance, preventing peas from forming.
Eat young purple hull peas either in the pod or shelled. Or let some of your crop dry on the vine so that they may be used as dried peas throughout the year.
Purple hull peas are bushy with twining tendencies but are not actually pole legumes. In practice, this means that they benefit from some support but don"t climb to the heights of pole beans. Tie them to their support structures with garden twine.
Along with stakes, other possible support structures include chain-link or lattice fencing, bamboo tepees, trellises and wire cages.
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If you already have raised beds in your garden, consider devoting one or two of them to purple hulls.
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