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Georgia Long Cowpea

Posted by macmex 6b (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 9, 08 at 8:08

Hey folks, Soonergrandmom, asked about this, and I thought I'd post in a separate thread. Here's a description of a long bean which I grow. There are others, which are good. But this one has a history with me and my family.

I received seed for this variety in 1984, from a Seed Savers Exchange Members Virgil and Hazel Johnson in Liberty, Missouri. They had obtained it from Faxon Stinnet, also a SSE member, who lived in Vian, OK. I grew it in Winona Lake, Indiana, in 1984 and 1985, with very good results. It proved to be a productive variety for snaps, shell or dry beans. It was also drought and pest tolerant.
In 1984 my wife Jerreth and I gave seed of Georgia Long, to her grandparents in Salem, Illinois (southern part of the state). They grew it every year from 1985 until at least 1997. Grandma passed away in 1995 and Grandpas health was so poor, that in 1997 he presented me with a bottle of seed and asked me to keep it going from him, as he couldnt garden any more. He had forgotten that originally we had given the variety to them. While growing this "bean," Grandpa planted about 20 feet on tripods and had so many that he absolutely couldnt eat them all. He would put out his surplus on a picnic table in the front lawn and a sign advertising free green beans! (I still have some of that 1996/1997 seed, in the same bottle. It tested out at nearly 100% germination in 2007!)
We lost our seed sometime between 1988 and 1992, when we lived in a very high cold rain forest in the Mexican state of Puebla. Life was too unsettled to keep seed going, and most of our heirloom varieties were not suited to that climate. We got more seed from Jerreths grandparents in 1994, and grew it until 2000, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, in an irrigated desert environment. It did very well in the desert. This variety likes heat and tolerates white alkali conditions.
Georgia Long is a climbing cowpea. Its vines may reach lengths of 20! It requires strong support and climbs like a pole bean. Pods are 24" long, born in pairs. Seed is "putty red" in color, and there are 8 beans to the pod. Flowers are yellow. The plant has attractive foliage and it produces until frost. This is an excellent garden variety!

It seems almost humorous, to me, that the farthest back I can trace this variety is probably to the 1970s in Vian, OK. We've grown it, carrying it around with us in our many travels, and finally landed in Tahlequah, only about 45 minutes away from Vian. Guess we brought it home.

Georgia Long taught me something about heirlooms and how fragil they can be. Jerreth's grandparents had grown and maintained a yellow podded pole bean for many years before 1984. That bean fits, almost to a tee, the description of the Golden Cluster Pole bean, which many believed to have gone extinct MANY years ago. Grandma and Grandpa Swalley liked Georgia Long so well, that within only a couple of years they let their other bean seed expire. This left the Barksdale bean (yellow podded pole) to us, to preserve. Many who have preserved valuable varieties do not necessarily have a great vision for preservation. They just like a "good bean." So, I am careful with I share seed with someone who had a family heirloom. At the very least, I try to get a sample of their seed (a swap) and take care that it is preserved, just in case....

George
Tahlequah, OK


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

Good Post George. Georgia long sounds very interesting. Perhaps next year, I could get a sample from you. I have too many Irons in the fire this year. I have lots of beans that I am growing out this year. Umm, I mean I will be trying to grow out, Lord willing. Are you getting any of this nasty weather? Snow earlier in the week, and now it's raining dogs and cats. My garden is so full, I could grow catfish.


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

George, it looks like a bean I might enjoy growing. Could I talk you into letting me send you some money for postage? I'm looking for a good cowpea. I'm not crazy about black eyed peas but have enjoyed many of the other varieties.


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

Belinda, I e-mailed you privately.

One thing a person needs to remember with these long beans is that they will indeed cross with a regular cowpea. I have the space now, that I generally don't plant two cultivars in the same garden. I have 3 main gardens and a couple other little patches around the place. If I have to plant them in the same garden I try to give them at least 30' of isolation distance. The only time I've actually had a cross was in the early 90's when I grew Black Crowder(a regular cowpea) right next to Georgia Long. The next year I found one "Georgia Long" plant which produced 12" pods and had black seed. The seed was elongated like Georgia Long. Upon growing that seed out I ended up with two variations, both 12" long. One had pods shaped like a regular cowpea. The other had pods which turned "puffy" like the Georgia Long. Both were quite tender and good to eat. But since that time I've taken much more care to isolate cowpeas.

Interestingly, I've grown a number of limas. Back in the 90s I actually had four or five all in a garden about 40'X40' and never had a cross. Yet, I suspect that would not happen here in Tahlequah, OK. I grew but one kind last year and the vines were absolutely swarming with honey bees! As a general rule with honey bees, if you don't want them to cross pollinate two varieties of a given crop you need those two crops to be at least 300' apart. Closer than that and individuals are likely to visit one and then the other. Farther apart and individuals are not likely to hit both plantings. That's some bee lore, at least 25 years old. If some study has come out which contradicts it, I haven't heard of it.

Belinda, I have to say that I buy and eat Black Eyed Peas. But I don't enjoy them nearly as much as Penny Rile, which is a smaller, tan pea, with a very different texture when cooked. I don't own stock in the "Penny Rile Seed Co." That's just the one pea I've grown in sufficient quantity to eat, since returning to the USA back in 2001. I plan to try, for a third time, to get a sizable planting of Zongozotla Pintitos, a pea we were given by a friend from the village of Zongozotla, Puebla (Mexico). For whatever reason I have had difficulty getting a good stand going. Yet others listed in the Seed Savers Exchange, who grow it, have not reported such difficulty.

I also plan on trying my year 2000 Black Crowder seed. I should run a germination test on it about now.

My wife, loves Penny Rile so much she gets worried when talk about growing other kinds! Either she isn't as enamored with experimentation, or perhaps she DOES own stock in the "Penny Rile Seed Co.!"

Hairy, you're a wise man. Stick to your guns and enjoy what you've got until you know you can branch out :)

George


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

George - Thanks for your information and also thanks to the rest of you. I have ordered seed for Yard Long Red Noodle Bean so I can give them a try. I may try some Lima beans just for the bee action.

I like planting pole beans because they are easier for me to pick. Carol


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

macmex

Could you describe the materials used to construct the tripods, the distance between each and the number of seeds per tripod? Oh, and if that's not enough questions - What about taste and texture? : )


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

Well, when I use tripods I just cut 8' saplings or pieces of bamboo. I use a breaker bar (long, heavy and pointed) to make holes to sink those poles about a foot. I place the poles in a triangle, about 3 1/2 feet apart and tie the tops together. Then I plant 2 to 3 seeds at the base of each pole. Generally, I find it easiest to plant the seeds under the leaning pole, so that they naturally grab it when they begin to climb. The main mistake I've made over the years, is to make my poles or tripods so high that I can't reach the top for picking. I place my tripods about 3 to 3 1/2' apart.

Since moving to Oklahoma I've discovered cattle panels. I believe I get more beans to the foot with them. What I do is to drive three T posts in a straight line and wire a 16' cattle panel to them, about a foot up off the ground. Then I plant Georgia Long seed about 6-8" apart, under or just to the side of the cattle panel. I also have some shorter pieces of cattle panel, and sometimes use them.

I'm a seed saver. My wife is mainly a vegetable user/lover. She absolutely loves to walk out into the garden and pick to her heart's content. We have divided our responsibilities so that I do nearly all the digging and planting. She does most of the preserving, though sometimes we work together on canning. Anyway, having said that, I'll comment that there are few things more discouraging to either of us than for her to happily "go a picking" and then have me not so happily inform her that she just decimated a rare seed crop. She wants to pick without fear of that. So, we've developed a system. If something is planted on a cattle panel, it's fare game for picking. If it's on a tripod, it's for seed, so do not pick. If it's on a single pole, ask before picking. This has worked well for us.

Incidentally, I love this idea of division of labor. She does what she does best. I do what I do best. It's WONDERFUL to get home from work, sometimes, and have my wife say, "George, I wish you'd get out there and work in the garden!"

Taste and texture: well, Georgia Long, as all long beans, is not as tender, raw, as most Phaseolus vulgaris beans. I do eat them raw at times, but not when I can get a regular bean pod. Their taste isn't as sweet either. But cooked, we like them just about the same as a regular string bean. They are good! They have the advantage that one can run out to the garden and literally pick a handful of pods; and that will be enough for a nice mess of beans for dinner (because each pod is so long). They also seem more heat tolerant than a Phaseolus vulgaris bean.

I would never grow these if I was primarily looking for dry peas, though. They are a bit shy in the area of seed production. A 24" pod will usually only have 8 seeds in it.

Also, when saving seed, I've learned that it's important to let the vines set their seed during the hot part of the summer. If I get greedy and pick all the pods during that time of the year, thinking that I can let them set seed later, I usually discover that once the nights turn cool, those pods are almost empty of seeds. So get your seed first, or better yet, make a separate planting for seed.

I consider Zeedman to be the most experienced one I know in growing out different varieties of long bean. I'm pretty sure that Farmerdilla has grown a number of varieties. So, if anyone needs to know about comparisons perhaps they can chime in.

George


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

George, I'm confused. Are these beans or peas? It sounds like your calling them peas but eating them like green beans?


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

Georgia Long is a cowpea. In the South cowpeas are called peas, which is why I called the seeds "peas." I call this a "bean" because we eat the pods like green beans. That's the reason for the confusion in terms. To me, with my NE USA roots, Georgia Long is neither a "pea" nor a "bean." It's a cowpea. Yet, I do respect the South's usage of "pea" since they have been the primary custodians of this wonderful crop.

George


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

George - It is indeed confusing. When I ordered Asparagus Beans, I thought I was ordering beans. I read a couple of things that Zeedman had to say about them being the same species as a cowpea and have now read your explanation as well. I don't have mine yet so haven't read the instructions on the pack, but does this mean you wait until it is very warm to plant them, or do you plant them early like green beans? Sorry for all of the questions.


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

macmex

Thank you so much for all the information.
I really enjoy this "pea" talk.


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

Carol,

I wouldn't plant your asparagus beans before the soil is warmed up, which probably means just a tad latter than a person would try planting regular beans.

George


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

That probably will not be a problem for me, since I ordered them so late this year. I wanted to try Zucchetta Rampicante Tromboncino squash and yard long beans and fortex beans but forgot to order them. The company I ordered from had the squash and the yard longs, but not the Fortex so I guess that has to wait until another gardening season. I am still trying to get my garden ready to plant and so far only have sugar snap peas in. I have missed all of this good weather because I have had bronchitis which kicked off my asthma and I can't quit coughing long enough to garden. I am interested in all of the different things you grow and would love to see your garden in full production this summer. Do you give tours? I could bring a picnic lunch (and I make a mean loaf of whole wheat bread). I would even promise not to pick anything from the tripods.

I have way too many tomato transplants AGAIN this year, but I just take the ones I can't use to the senior citizens center and several people take home a few. They always seem happy to get them. Even if they are too feeble to garden, they will stick a tomato plant in a flower bed and baby it all summer.


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

Carol, I'd be delighted to give a tour. (It motivates me to keep up on the weeding :)

Yes, I have a couple of standing orders for tomato plants and for sweet potato slips. One friend of ours was a missionary in Mexico for over 40 years, and has lived in the Kansas City area, on a VERY low income, for the last 10 plus years. She's in her eighties now. She put in her order for two Baker Family Heirloom tomato plants at Thanksgiving, when we had her down for a couple of days. She grew two last year, in containers, on little balcony, and was delighted with the deluge of tomatoes.

We'll just have to plan well ahead, since between myself, Jerreth and our three (pretty much) grown kids, it's hard to plan without a good advance warning.

George


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RE: Georgia Long Cowpea

Thanks George. I want to come when the garden is in full swing, and I will be intimidated if it is weed free. I had a broken foot last year and couldn't take care of my garden at all, so it may take me years to get the grass out of mine again. We will discuss a time later in the year. For right now, just keep up the good information on the forums. I loved your squash photo and info last year. Carol


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