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June 20, 2011

Time to harvest cowpeas

It is June and cowpeas have been growing nicely. I use cowpeas as you would use any green been in my cooking. To harvest, I use scissors and cut off at the end of the bean itself. This way the plant is not damaged by pulling as well as it makes it easier to cut off the ends when preparing for cooking or freezing later:

One end is already cut so my future work will be reduced in half.

Sometimes you will see large red ants on the cowpea plants and also aphids on the beans. The ants are easy to get rid of, just shake them off the plant and they will fall onto the ground. Aphids are easily washed off with the garden hose or other means. Ants herd aphids on cowpeas and other plants, such as sunflowers. They are not harmful and do not do much damage to the plants or the crop.

Aphids on the cowpea bean

This amount of cowpea beans was harvested from a small four by four feet area in the garden. You can keep picking cowpea beans for about a month. After most of the green beans are harvested, leave a few on the vines to mature and dry; this way you will have your own seeds next season. Dry cowpeas can be used just as any other dry bean in your cooking, except they don't need to be soaked or cooked for as long as the other beans.

Now that one end of cowpea beans was cut off while harvesting, it is easy to process them for cooking or storing. I don't blanch cowpeas before freezing because they will not discolorate anyway and blanching involves additional steps that are not necessary before freezing cowpeas.


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