Purple Hull Peas

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Purple Hull Peas in a pod

Planting Purple Hull Peas

Purple Hull peas are a variety of Southern Pea, they are related to black eyed peas, crowder peas and some crops commonly called beans. They are tasty and versatile crop that thrives in warm climates and can grown as far North as Southern New England and the Pacific Northwest.

However unlike common peas, Purple Hull peas require warm weather and will not tolerate extended cold snaps. Temperatures should be consistently above 70 F before planting them outside. Most varieties mature quickly, so even Northern gardeners can produce them, so long as they time their plantings correctly.

Southerners can make multiple plantings every two weeks to ensure a continuos harvest. Although Purple hull peas are generally bush type peas, they are twining and commonly require staking or a support structure such as a trellis. There are also vining and semi-vining varieties.

It is advisable to put down a layer of compost several inches thick over the planting area and work it into the top layers of soil.

Purple Hull Peas make a good choice for late summer planting. If direct seeding, as opposed to starting in flats or peat pots set the seeds into the soil's surface about 1 inch deep, spaced about 2 inches apart.

For early plantings, direct seed in the garden roughly 4 weeks after the last frost date. Start indoors roughly six weeks prior to transplanting outside for an early planting.

As they emerge you may need to thin them out somewhat in order to maintain a 3.5 to 4 inch seperation between plants. Naturally you'll want to keep the healthiest and hardiest seedlings and get rid of the rest. They do not take well to transplanting - but some will make it if you choose to plant seedlings you've removed in another location.

Low nitrogen fertilizer is best. Higher nitrogen solutions are never advisable for peas or other legumes. Peas "fix" nitrogen into the soil, too much extra nitrogen will lead to lush foliage at the expense of fruit production, in fact, it could keep peas from forming. Minimal added fertilization is needed other than some organic compost.

What color are Purple Hull Peas - well they aren't green - care to guess again ? Their purple hulls stand out like a beacon amongst green foliage making them easy to pick out at harvest time. The 'Peas' within the hull are not purple- just the hull is. Another question - are Purple Hull peas really Peas ? Well - no they aren't true Peas - but neither is their close cousin - Black eyed Peas, they are more closely related to beans.

Varieties of Purple Hull Peas include...

Knuckle Purple hull, compact bush variety - 60 days

Pink Eye Purple Hull Cow pea - 65 to 70 days. Semi Vining Disease resistant

California Pink Eye - 60 days - little disease resistance

Texas Pink Eye Purple Hull 50 - 55 days Minimal disease resistance

Coronet - 55 - 60 days. Semi Vining

Mississippi Purple Hull 70 days - Warmer weather than most varieties.

Harvest and Storage

Harvest when the pea pods are plump and purple. If you are planning to use them right away, shell them right away. If you aren't using them right away, they can be refrigerate for several days before the quality begins to degrade.They can also be frozen, the best method is to hull them then quickly blanch and freeze them.