An Ode to Cow Pea

On June 14th this year, with the infectious enthusiasm of 3 kids and 3 ladies, we cleared out a small patch just in front of the house and planted some cow pea and corn. The total area was about 100 sq ft of which the cow pea to corn ratio was 60:40

In 30 days, these plants grew to occupy almost 90% of the space above and by 45 days they gave out the first tendril. We clipped these so the plant will be encouraged to branch out as a bush instead of growing as a vine. There is no trellis in this space so this was a better option.

On day 54, August 8th, we got the first harvest of about 800 gms. We were quite happy with it as this was a good quantity for lunch. But we had no idea of the abundance that would follow. For the next 45 days, on most of the days, we averaged a harvest of about 3 kgs. And we so enjoyed the challenge of finding one more new person to share with. Even after the rains stopped, and the sun started blazing, the harvest kept the same pace.

The tender ones were cooked into a vegetable or a stew. The mature ones were used for their beans which we used mostly fresh for Sundal, a popular snack that involves steaming these beans and seasoning them with coconut, salt, mustard seeds and curry leaves.

Towards the end of its life cycle, the yeild dropped to 500 gms or less a day. We left most of these to fall on the soil.

Cow pea seems to be one of those no-fuss veggies that gives sumptuous returns for very little labour. And it fixes nitrogen in the soil! Plan to grow this every June as a rain-fed crop.

Some pictures here.


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