Purple hull peas

Purple hull peas are a favorite in East Texas.

There is possibly nothing more East Texan than purple hull peas. Indeed, the purple hull pea has many close relatives, including zipper creams, lady fingers and crowders.

I remember well my mom shelling peas by hand. She’d take them out of a large brown grocery sack (remember those?) and would put the shelled peas in a large bowl from the kitchen. The hulls were tossed into another large brown paper sack that we always had a supply of.

Purple hull peas are appreciated for their ability to grow in a variety of soil types, take our heat and actually improve your soil. As a legume, all Southern peas should fix nitrogen into your soil.

Some sources will cite that you need to add the bacterial inoculant to get the most out of your pea’s seeds. While this is technically correct, gardeners have for years planted Southern peas in “new” soil and done well without that step. And after the first year, much of the bacteria sold in the inoculant will naturally increase in the soil.

Growing tips:

1. Select a site with at least eight hours of direct sunlight for maximum production. Remember, this is one of the few vegetable garden plants that will take (and needs a full dose of) the hot sun.

2. Plant seeds 1 inch deep in the soil in rows 24 to 40 inches apart. Within the row, sow seeds 2-3 inches apart.

3. This is a short crop, ready to harvest in 65 to 75 days from planting.

Water is only needed in prolonged periods of dry weather.

4. Fertilize lightly. Peas are legumes that, if given too much nitrogen fertilizer, will produce beautiful plants with several vines, but few pea pods.

5. Southern peas are not troubled with diseases and insect problems to the extent that other vegetables are.

6. Harvest when seed pods are fully formed but before they begin to dry.

7. Be sure to prepare and eat the peas soon after harvest. They can be refrigerated for three to four days without losing much quality. Longer than that, they need to be frozen or canned.