The joy of growing cowpeas

I’m always happy to share my gardening experiences, and my grandfather was the one who taught me to garden. We used to plan his garden together, him pushing his Troy Bilt and me following behind, raking the tracks left by the tiller. We buried tomato stems to help them form new roots. We use string to mark straight rows.

Once he realised my interest, he created a small plot of land for me a few feet away from his garden to grow some of my favourite vegetables such as corn, beans and tomatoes. He was always available to answer any questions I had. I loved every minute of gardening with him.

When my grandfather passed away the following year, my grandmother allowed me to take over his garden because we were running out of good places in the house. All of it was a plant paradise.

But that’s a different story. Today’s story goes back to the first year I inherited his garden. It was a plot of land about thirty feet wide and fifty feet long. That year, I planted what I normally would have planted – tomatoes, corn, and beans. However, on one side of the garden, I noticed something that looked like a bean plant, but really wasn’t. As it became weighty, I realised it was a cowpea, a seedling from my grandfather’s crop last year. Although he left me, a seedling he planted last year had sprouted. I was very happy and ecstatic. I let it grow in a less than ideal spot and at the end of the growing season it grew a pod with nine seeds in it. I planted those seeds the next year, and the next, and the next, until I had saved up a nice bag of them. They grew more vigorously in better soil. I’ll be honest. I really didn’t like eating them at the time, but I did like using them as a cover crop, and their rhizomes fixed nitrogen into the soil in my garden.


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