'Promiscuous Peas' African Pea Breeding Mix
Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata
Origin: Western North Carolina
Improvement status: Breeding population
Seeds per packet: ~45
Germination tested 12/2023: 92%
Life cycle: Annual
From our friends at The Utopian Seed Project, here's another diverse breeding mix ready to be adapted to your farm or garden. We'll let founder Chris Smith tell the story:
"This is the beginnings of an African Pea Ultracross, created as part of a search for promiscuous peas! In most things related to seeds, I always first turn to Yanna Fishman, board member of The Utopian Seed Project and an incredible seed keeper. I told Yanna I was looking for African peas [A.K.A. southern peas, black-eyed peas, or cowpeas — though they are not just food for cows!] and when I arrived for a visit she had pulled out jars and jars of different African pea varieties. They were diverse and beautiful, but there was one jar pushed to the corner labelled only 'Sports'. Yanna explained that she plants all of her peas pretty close to each other and hand shells everything. When she gets peas that don't look like their parents, she puts them off to one side and they all end up in the 'Sports' jar. It's quite likely the sports were actually crosses and this jar represented just the promiscuous peas I was looking for! In 2023 we planted two 50ft rows of Yanna's peas alonside one row of Joseph Lofthouse's landrace African peas. We also had plantings of 'Texas Green Emerald' (the green pea in the mix) and 'Rouge de Burkina Faso' (the red pea) planted in adjacent rows. This mix is a combination of all the seeds with high hopes of ongoing intercrossing."
This exactly the sort of project we love — keep 'em coming, Chris! — and we're so excited to see what sort of diversity springs forth from this population once its in your hands!
GROWING TIPS: African peas may be prostrate and sprawl along the ground, or climbing and sprawl in every direction. We expect this population will have some forms of each, so it might be advantageous to have a trellis in the row or bed with these plants, just in case any of them really want to climb (and won't express their full potential without climbing). Direct sow seeds in warm soil some weeks after the last threat of frost has passed. Give plenty of room for plants to sprawl around.