(Vigna unguiculata) Cowpeas are colorful, tasty and very easy to grow. They originated in Africa, and are popular in the southern U.S., Africa and Asia, as they tolerate heat, drought and humidity much better than common beans do. They are great picked young for use as green snap beans, and stir fried or boiled. They also make a great cover crop for adding nitrogen to the soil, sown in spring or summer and tilled into the soil when flowers begin to appear. Seeds germinate in 5-14 days. Plant seeds about 1/2 inch deep after frosts have ceased and soil is at least 65 degrees F. Most types “run,” meaning they grow long vines, so allow 3 to 5 feet between rows. Trellising can keep the plants neat and tidy. If growing as a cover crop there is no need to trellis. Using drip irrigation or soaker hoses helps to prevent disease, as splashing of water onto foliage can spread disease. The plants can tolerate a bit of shade.