Recently, unusual, exotic plants have been increasingly appearing on household plots, vegetable beds of our compatriots. most often these are cultures well known to the inhabitants of tropical countries, where they live in natural conditions. Vigna also came to us from Africa, but even there it does not grow in the wild, but is grown as a grain, fodder, vegetable, green manure crop. The composition of the fruit is saturated with vitamins, minerals, substances beneficial to human health. In addition, bright beautiful greenery, original flowers and hanging long "shoulder blades", as unripe cowpea fruits are called, can serve as a garden decoration, used to create a hedge.

General characteristics

Exotic plants in your garden: cowpea

The name Vígna is a herbaceous flowering plant, received on behalf of the director of the Botanical Garden, located in the city of Pisa, whose name was Domenico Vigny. The culture belongs to the Fabaceae (Bean) family and has more than 120 species. Outwardly, it resembles plants from the genus Bean, but differs from them at the biochemical level: the structure of stipules and gynoecium, the composition of pollen. That is why some varieties of Asian beans are also included in it: adzuki, mung bean, urd. However, crossing a plant with a bean is not possible.

There are 3 forms of plants: climbing, bush and semi-bush. The most widespread is the bush species, the so-called Chinese cowpea, which has several other names: asparagus, sugar beans, cowpeas.

A thin erect climbing liana-like stem of cowpea stretches up to 5 m in height. Wide trifoliate leaves arranged in pairs are attached to it. Despite the fact that they are separated from each other at a considerable distance, the plant is able to create a plentiful shadow.

Vigna flowers are collected in small brushes. In shape, they are similar to the flowers of beans, peas, but larger than them. The color of the petals can be different: white, blue, yellow, purple and other shades.

After pollination, fruits are formed in place of flowers: narrow (only 2 cm in diameter), but long (when fully ripe, their length can reach 1 m) pods. They completely lack a parchment layer, therefore, not only the numerous seeds inside, the size of a wheat grain, but also the wings of the pod (scapula) themselves have a delicate structure.

Seeds (beans) are quite small in size and can be colored, depending on the variety, white, milky, black.

The benefits of cowpea

All parts of the cowpea have a very rich chemical composition, which is the reason for the benefits of the plant, which is widely used in cooking and traditional medicine.

  • The energy value of fruits is very low, in addition, they are able to stimulate the excretion of their body fluids, so it is used as one of the ingredients of dietary nutrition.
  • The presence of potassium and sodium in the beans in the optimal proportion allows you to use dishes from it to improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system, get rid of edema.
  • The leaves and seeds contain arginine, which can be considered an analogue of insulin. A decoction of these parts of the plant is recommended for diabetes. This does not replace the need to carry out the treatment prescribed by the doctor.
  • Asparagus beans are useful in inflammatory processes in the kidneys, bladder. A decoction of flowers will help remove the stones formed in them.
  • With rheumatism, gout, eating dishes with the addition of cowpea is also indicated.
  • Puree from seeds can be eaten not only while following a diet for weight loss, but also with gastritis.

However, it must be remembered that the composition of fruits and seeds also contains toxic substances. Therefore, when eating a large amount of raw, not heat-treated fruits, poisoning is possible. For the first time, you need to try cowpea dishes in small volumes in order to avoid an allergic reaction in case of individual intolerance.

Planting and growing cowpea

“Arrived” to us from Africa is accustomed to a tropical climate, in particular, the plant is able to withstand very high air temperatures for a short time, up to 40-50 ° C, but the values ​​\u200b\u200bfor it are optimal in the range of 20-25 ° C. But she is unable to survive low temperatures without additional shelter. Therefore, in Western Siberia and other cold regions of our country, it must be grown in a greenhouse, conservatory, winter garden. While in the southern regions of Russia, she feels great in the open field.

Soil preparation

The site for planting asparagus beans begins to be prepared in the fall. It should be well lit and dry, without drafts and strong winds. In addition, the plant during the growing season consumes a large amount of nutrients. To provide them in sufficient quantities before digging, the soil is well flavored with manure, humus, and other organic fertilizers, which not only saturate the soil with beneficial microorganisms, but also improve its structure, make it more loose. Air and water permeable. You can add mineral compounds containing potassium, phosphorus (superphosphate, potassium salt).

Observe crop rotation, do not plant cowpeas in one place for more than 3 years in a row and after legumes. With increased acidity of the soil, liming is carried out, adding lime, chalk, wood ash.

Seed preparation

In order for the seeds planted in the soil to germinate quickly, it must be well warmed up. Therefore, cultivation on open ground by direct sowing of seeds into the soil is possible only in the south of Russia, in other regions the seedling method is practiced. But in any case, it is necessary to carry out preliminary preparation of seed material.

It is difficult for sprouts to break through the dense skin of seeds. To soften it, they are placed in warm water and kept in it for 4-6 hours. Then they are disinfected in a weak solution of potassium permanganate. The color of the composition should be a faint pinkish tint, and the duration of the procedure should not exceed 15-20 minutes. After removing from the solution, the seeds are washed in clean water and dried.

Seedling method

To get a bountiful harvest in a short time, it is best to grow cowpea in the open field through seedlings.

  • Sowing
  • Transplanting
  • seed disinfection;
  • removal of plant residues from the garden (weeds, removed shoots);
  • if necessary, spraying plantings with pesticides.

Peat cups, disposable or reusable germination containers are filled with ready-made soil mixture or self-made substrate. The seeds are laid out on the surface and sprinkled with a layer of soil 1 cm thick. Carefully watered or moistened with a sprayer and covered with plastic wrap, glass, creating an optimal microclimate for the emergence of sprouts. The containers are kept in a warm room, the glass is regularly removed and watered. After the appearance of the first sprouts, the coating is removed. After 35-40 days, the planting material will be ready for transplanting to a permanent place.

It is necessary to plant grown bushes in open ground after the air temperature stops dropping below 15ºС during the day. In extreme cases, you will have to take care of additional protection by creating a mini-greenhouse made of metal arcs and film over the bed.

The hole prepared for planting is moistened. The peat pot is simply lowered into it. If a reusable container was used, then the seedlings are removed from it along with an earthen clod so as not to damage the roots. The hole is covered with soil, slightly compacting it, and carefully watered.

Seedless way

In the Kuban, Stavropol, Crimea, and other southern regions, you can not bother with growing seedlings, but plant cowpea beans directly in open ground, waiting until the weather is warm. On the site at a distance of 60-70 cm from each other, shallow holes are made. 2-3 seeds are placed in each and covered with a layer of soil 5 cm thick. After the seedlings grow, the strongest shoot is left, and the rest are removed. For climbing varieties, a trellis is installed, a cucumber net, another support along which the plant will weave.

From asparagus beans, you can create a very interesting design that will decorate the vegetable garden. To do this, the hole is made wider, and the seeds are laid out away from each other. When shoots appear, a strong metal rod is installed in the center of the hole, which will serve as a support for all plants that create a kind of tent.

Watering and feeding

Plants should be watered regularly using warm, settled water. You can take a well or collect rainwater for this purpose. The culture does not react well to high humidity, but it is also not worth waiting until the soil in the garden becomes completely dry. To reduce the risk of excessive waterlogging or drying out, especially if it is a suburban area without permanent residence, you can mulch the soil in the garden using peat, sawdust, straw. Periodically apply mineral fertilizers or organic matter under the plants. This procedure can be combined with watering.


In addition to watering and top dressing, loosen the soil surface in a timely manner to ensure oxygen access to the roots. During weeding, remove weeds, being careful not to damage the root system of cowpeas. By the way, thanks to mulching, you can get rid of this procedure, since they will not grow weeds, and the soil under the mulch layer will always be loose.

Make sure that the stalks of asparagus beans do not intertwine with each other, correct them by pinching side shoots that do not have buds. After the height of the vine reaches 2.5 m, gently pinch the top.

Pests, diseases

Vigna suffers from the same diseases and pests as other legumes that our compatriots have been growing on their plots for a long time, therefore, preventive measures and methods of dealing with them are identical:

In particularly dry periods, spider mites can become active, to prevent this problem, sprinkling is carried out, which leads to an increase in air humidity.

Harvest and storage

In cooking, folk medicine, leaves, flowers, shoulder blades and cowpea beans are used. They can be collected throughout the growing season until the temperature drops, which can lead to the death of the plant.

Green pods are harvested during milk maturity, 7-10 days after formation. At a later age, they acquire a rigid fibrous structure. In addition, it stimulates bud formation. Fresh young pods are not stored for a long time, but they can be cut into small pieces and frozen.

To collect beans, for seeds or for food, you need to wait for the final ripening of the pods. Dry, yellow pods break apart without problems, and the seeds are easily removed from them. After collecting the beans, dry them until completely dry, pour them into canvas, linen bags, paper bags and store in a cool, dry place. Dried shoulder blades can also be sent to storage for the preparation of a healing decoction.

Vigna in cooking

African peoples actively use asparagus beans in their daily diet: leaves, beans are stewed, boiled and eaten as a side dish or porridge. And in the cuisine of Asian countries, green pods are popular. Indeed, beans contain a large amount of protein, even more than meat or fish. They don't need to be pre-soaked, and they don't produce gas like many other legumes. Young pods will be an excellent source of fiber, necessary for the full functioning of the digestive tract.

There are many different recipes for cooking cowpeas. It is boiled, stewed, canned, frozen. Add to salads, first and second courses, prepare mashed potatoes, casseroles. The main condition is mandatory heat treatment.

Try growing cowpea, a string bean, in your garden or backyard. It will be a great addition to the usual vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers), help diversify the table and be sure to please all members of your family.

Things to know (Q&A)

Which type of plant is cowpea?

The cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an annual herbaceous legume from the genus Vigna. Due to its tolerance for sandy soil and low rainfall, it is an important crop in the semiarid regions across Africa and Asia.

How do I plant cowpeas in my garden?

Time of Planting: Most gardeners plant cowpea seeds directly outdoors, once the danger of frost has passed . Water seeds well to speed up germination. Spacing Requirements: Plant the cowpea seeds 2-3 inches apart, ½ inch deep directly into warm soil. Time to Germination: Cowpeas are quick to germinate.

How long do cowpeas take to grow?

Cowpea can be harvested at three different stages of maturity: green snaps, green-mature, and dry. Depending on temperature, fresh-market (green-mature) peas are ready for harvest 16 to 17 days after bloom (60 to 90 days after planting) .

Are cowpeas easy to grow?

Cowpeas germinate and mature quickly , so you won't be getting that much of a headstart by starting your seeds indoors. In addition, many gardeners recommend not starting these plants indoors because the roots can be easily damaged when you are transplanting the

Is cowpea a dicotyledon plant?

Dicotyledonous plants : These are plants with two seed leaves or cotyledons e.g. cowpea, mango, citrus, cashew groundnuts, tomatoes, kola, mango et

What is the category of cowpea?

The cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an annual herbaceous legume from the genus Vigna.

Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Vigna
Species: V. unguiculata

What type of seed is cowpea?

annual legume

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.), an annual legume , is also commonly referred to as southern pea, blackeye pea, crowder pea, lubia, niebe, coupe or frijole.

Is cowpea a herb?

Cowpea is an annual herb , erect or suberect and stems usually procumbent (Duke, 1981).

What month do you plant cowpeas?

In most areas, cowpeas can be planted from ear

How close can you plant cowpeas?

Spacing Requirements

Plant the cowpea seeds 2-3 inches apart , ½ inch deep directly into warm soil.

Do cowpeas need a trellis?

without a trellis . Beautiful cow peas are easy to grow and harvest. Winnowing is easy with beans. Just one or two passes in front of a fan is all it takes to clean the seeds for storage.