Cheap, delicious, hardy & a bit poisonous !
Even for the history alone it’s worth growing in any allotment or vegetable garden.
The Greeks used it as an aphrodisiac, the Pharaoh’s used it as a present for the afterlife, the Russians gave it to their horses, it’s been banned in India…
And one of the staple diets for the poor in larger parts of Africa and the Mediterranean.
If you eat to much of it (regularly) it will poison you – but it tastes fantastic in dishes like Gachas Manchegas, or Maltagliati.
What is a Grass Pea ?
It’s the type of crop you grow when nothing else will do – especially in areas that are prone to drought or famine (or you have an allotment plot miles from the nearest tap !)
It is one of the very few legumes grown as a staple diet (because it’s cheap) – but that is also it’s biggest drawback. Eat to much (on a regular basis) and the toxins in it could add up and affect you.
On the other hand it is a very popular staple food in large parts of the world…
It has very pretty azure blue coloured flowers & looks great !
One of the key reasons for growing grass pea (if you are into crop rotation) is that it is very tolerant to biological and environmental stresses, and is a very efficient nitrogen fixer so that it will improve the fertility of the soil for your next crops
How to grow Grass Pea…..
Simply sow outside after the last frost into most types of soil – either into full sun or partial shade
Space the seeds 38 to 45 cm apart because they will grow to about 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3 feet) in height
You can either let them trail along the floor or grow them up a mesh (like the climbing frame from harrod horticultural shown right)
It is drought resistant but you will get the best results if you water them now and then. (but be careful not to over-water)
The grass pea will flow later spring to early summer – with the peas being read to harvest mid summer
When to harvest grass peas..
I haven’t seen how they harvest them in Africa, etc. – hence any advice would be welcome !!
However I understand you will get best results if you wait for the peas to brown and dry on the vines – but obviously before they pop !!!
How to use..
The beauty of the grass peas is that you can either use them as an ingredient (whole but soaked) in recipes or (and a lot more fun !!) as a flour.
Because it’s grown in so many places there are loads and loads of difference recipe ideas – see below.
- How to prepare grass peas
- Where to buy grass pea seeds