Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zipper Peas/Cream Crowder Peas

My neighbor's mother-in-law grows zipper peas in Florida and sent back zipper peas to share. I just had to try to grow them, myself. They're cowpea like and also called crowder peas because of how the peas are "crowded" inside the pod. Cook them up with a few of the snaps intact and you've got some good, good eatin'.

I had a hard time finding them on-line and most of the places wanted more money than necessary for the seeds and for you to mortgage your house to afford the shipping costs which in most cases were more expensive than the seeds, themselves.

I went to a local farm supply store on a lark and sure enough, they had a four cubic foot bag just full of them. I took "a scoop" for $1.75. You can't beat that. Here's a picture of the bag minus a few hundred seeds I have already taken out.

The main bag did carry a yellow label which I wish I had gotten a better look at. I saw the words "Caution" and "Lower Than Average Germination," but for $1.75 for a scoop, I didn't think I could argue. The warning label was right. Sure enough, germination is about 20-30%. The seeds are covered in a pink coating which seems to absorb water and hold it in close to the seed, but all it seems to do is help the pea rot in the soil. I tried to uncover some of the seeds I planted a week ago and had a devil of a time finding any. The ones I did find were mostly rotted out.

I decided to try to pre sprout some of them in some paper towels. This way I'll get an accurate look at the germination rate and they'll hopefully take to the ground better once pre sprouted. Here you can see that the coating has already absorbed most of the water in the paper towel after only an hour.
The plants don't look like your average pea. Here's my Alaska peas. The tendrils are just now reaching out to grab the silly pea sticks I put out for them.
Here are two pictures of the zipper cream peas. Very different looking, aren't they; they're almost more bean looking than pea like.

I've read mixed statements on if they're a climbing pea or a short bush. Seems like no one has a good consensus. I put some string out there for them to run on, but it looks like they'll bush instead. I'll give them a week or so more and then take out the strings if it looks like they won't be using them. By then I'll also know if any of the second planting of peas came up and be able to fill the blank spots with the new crowder peas I'm trying to pre sprout. I've also heard conflicting things on if they're a fresh pea or ones you should dry first. I've tried to do my research, but I'm coming up flat. Anyone have experience with these or crowder peas in general?

I'm really, really, really hoping to get a good turnout from these guys. I'd like to have enough for a few dinners, but with peas, you always need much, much more than you'd think because once you shell them, you might as well have only picked two or three.

MMMM...peas. The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.


  1. Hm, interesting. I'd love to experiment with all these different beans/peas, cuz I love 'em. Hubby, however, does not, so it'd be silly to grow something I'll only throw away. Sigh...
    Wish I knew what to tell you. Hopefully somebody will be able to tell you.

  2. If they are the same variety of "zippers" that my family used to pick in FL, then they are more bush-like.

    Every summer we'd pick a bushel (or more!), then go home & shell, blanch & freeze.

    Good eatin' indeed.

  3. Wow! The fact that you are growing these in mid-summer in the south definitely indicates that they are not your"average pea"! Gorgeous!

  4. These are super-neato!
    I am amazed at how pink they are. Tastewise? let us know!

  5. Katydidit, thank you!! I'll take the trellis off. Shell and freeze. I can do that. Thanks for the information!

  6. Erin, they're supposed to be incredibly heat tollerant. I'm excited to try them.

    Rosey, The pink is whatever coating they've got on them. Not the color of the pea itself. Taste is a bit like a chick pea, only much softer.

  7. We used to grow crowder peas when I was young. I haven't seen any in many years. They're more like a black-eyed pea in taste and texture but richer. Cook with a good piece of ham hock or other seasoning meat and enjoy!

  8. Thank you! That sounds wonderful. 'Richer' is exactly how I'd describe them. They really are good, aren't they.

  9. Don't eat the peas you got as seeds! That pretty pink coating is a fungicide to keep the pea from molding in the ground before it sprouts. We live in North Florida and grow these in our little garden. These peas are a legume and are much like black-eyes. They are best eaten fresh or blanch and freeze them for winter use. They are delicious! My wife will cook up a batch, seasoned with a bay leaf, a little olive oil or bacon fat, a clove of garlic, simmered until tender. We eat them with steamed kale and a little pepper sauce for lunch during the week at work. What a wonderful way to celebrate the mid-day!

  10. You can order fresh peas from southwestrnproduce.com. I pick these during the summer froma relative's garden, but during the winter I order them. Shipping costs are a little steep, but they arrive falsh frozen, already shelled, and ready to go. I have a waiting list every year of friends and family members who hope that I will share this rea so I do. These peas, cooked with a ham bone and some chicken stock, have become a treasured holiday dish!

  11. I just received (a few weeks ago) a quart bag of fresh zipper peas from my cousin and aunt who grow them in Lakeland, Florida! I loved them fresh! I want to grow them, but you have to grow so many to end up with anything, and my soil is all sand here, so I grow my other vegies in buckets! Not sure how to get the zippers, except to order from Southwestrnproduce.com.
    Thanks for all the info!!! BTW, I did grow fresh blackeyed peas last summer and they tasted great, but I didn't get enough to make it a practice!!!

  12. This is my first year growing zipper peas, I wanted lady finger peas, I planted from seed on May 8th, so they are two months grown and just producing small pods. How long and how big do they need to be to pick? Thanks.

  13. Just large enough to bulk out the pods. It's not about length, but girth.

  14. I planted zipper creams next to my climbing pole beans. The ZC's crossed over the pole beans and up the trellis and have reached a height of 10' and still going above and beyond the top of the trellis. I was told they were more of a bush type. Lucky I had a trellis close by. I have to pick them 2/3 times a week, depending on the water they receive. The pods get about 10/12" long and fill out and start to turn a pale yellow. If you want more snaps, do not let them fill out completely. I buy my seeds at the local farm and garden store here in north Florida.

  15. What type of zipper pea is that? I have never sen pink zipper peas. I only have seen green ones.

    1. Hi Todd, I think they are coated with something. I got them from our local feed store.