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Pigeon Pea

 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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My pigeon peas are all coming up! I never thought I could get so excited about a dad gum pea. Being the first perennial legume member of our food forest, this is a nice little milestone worth celebrating! I've never grown pigeon peas before, so if any of you permie veterans have any "sage" advice, please come forth with it. That's anything - growing it, using it, eating the beans, or it's ecological value. This, to me, seems like a personal passage from being just an organic gardener to becoming a food forest gardener.
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
Posts: 1399
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Oh yes! I had to look that up as I had never heard of it. Since I am close to your zone I wonder if it would be perennial in my area? This I must try!
 
Ray South
Posts: 49
Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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My son grows pigeon peas so when I visit, I often harvest the dry peas, shell them, and cook them up. They are a bit of a pain to shell but I bribe the grandkids into helping out.
As for the plants themselves, my son prunes them often for mulch, and to stop them getting unmanageably large. He's let a few go and they're too tall to harvest peas from. They'll be chopped out soon. They self-seed readily so there are often lots of seedlings to pull up for mulch. If I lived in a suitable climate I'd grow them too, though I'd work on easier ways to thresh the pods!
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Ray - what is the average minimum winter temperature where your son grows the pigeon peas? Wet or dry climate? Not sure if you folks in Australia go by the USDA plant hardiness zone map, but I'm wondering how similar that is to Zone 9A here at our place in Florida.
 
Travis Dodson
Posts: 3
Location: North Kohala, Hawaii
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Pigeon peas foliage can be pruned back up to 80% for mulching surrounding plantings. I have heard of people using it as a a short term living fence as well. I use them for protection of young trees being attacked by rose beetle and as an NFP in all my tree plantings.We eat them mostly as edamame or culture them into tempeh. In the sub- tropics they are a very important plant for food self reliance because one plant produces so much. Be careful, one thing I have noticed when saving seed is if you don't shell them before storing they can get eaten by some sort of beetle. The pod protects the pest as they feast and you can see the beetle entry as one small hole in the pod. I usually discard these pods because they are not worth sorting through.
Hope this helps-
 
Ray South
Posts: 49
Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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Nick, it rarely gets below 10°C (50°F) where my son lives and never sees frost. It's humid much of the year. Summer temps rarely go above 35°C (95°F). Winter is his 'dry' season with most of the rain falling during the spring and summer months. I would describe his climate as warm temperate, almost sub-tropical. Pigeon pea grows fast where he lives if rain is plentiful. His latitude is about 27° S.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Thanks Ray. Here, we get frost on a handful of mornings most winters. I'm wondering if frost causes pigeon pea to lose it's leaves? What is the minimum temperature for survival?
 
Ray South
Posts: 49
Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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I'm not sure what the lowest temperature it can is but I'd say if sown early enough to get some size before winter then it could handle a few light frosts. It may lose a few leaves but you might as well sow them and see.
Here's some information about it. It's for Australian commercial growers but still has useful info for the home gardener.
http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/157488/cowpea-lablab-pigeon-pea.pdf
And another more general
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/Cajanus_cajan.htm
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Ray, thanks - excellent info there. I'm delighted that pigeon pea looks to be an excellent candidate for our location, with sandy soil, a challenging dry season, in zone 9A.
 
Steve Flanagan
volunteer
Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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I'm interested in Growing Pigeon Peas. I wonder If I can do it? According to the new USDA growing zone map I am in 9a, but very close to 8b. We rarely get snow, maybe one or twice a year. Although we had a warmer then average winter this past winter the lowest temp was 27 F. What kind of soil do they like? How do you eat them?
 
Ben Karpin
Posts: 2
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There is more info. here with a permaculture focus.
http://www.tropicalpermaculture.com/pigeon-pea.html
 
Steve Flanagan
volunteer
Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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sounds pretty cool. I wonder if they will grow in my dry hot weather. Isn't their native growing region humid and hot?
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1261
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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Cajanus cajan... We call it guandul!
A friend of mine do them and is happy with the result, and I will, I have elected it for my dry climate, so your can try!

They are given as ok for 600mm/year and can grow with under 400mm too.
I though USDA 10 was a minimum and 10°C/50°F, so I would be pleased to correct my datas with your real experiences!
Thanks
 
mark peyton
Posts: 3
Location: Asheville, North carolina Ponce, Puerto Rico
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Pigeon peas are also called Gandules in Puerto Rico. It is a very common food item and is grown on the South side of the Island where it tends to be hot and drier than the other coasts
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 336
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
10
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What is the trick to germinate them? I had put them in normal soil indoors at 22ºC and nothing had happened so far. Tried both with and without overnight soaking, and even long term soaking. They seem to easily rot.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://permies.com/battery
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