Pigeon peas are a great fit at Three Acre Paradise, besides being an edible legume they are a fast growing perennial and can provide quick shade for more delicate plants.
Pigeon peas are a fast growing perennial legume that have many uses in a food forest or permaculture environment. Pigeon peas have been used as a protein rich food source for humans for at least 3,500 years and are popular in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They are also very drought tolerant and can provide a heavy harvest for three to five years.
Food Source: Pigeon peas are protein rich and can be used as a green vegetable pea, dried, or made into flour.
Animal Fodder: The leaves, seeds, pods and the remnants of seed processing are used to feed many kinds of livestock.
Improving Soil: Since they are a legume Pigeon peas provide nitrogen fixing for soil. This can be accomplished by simply pruning the plant and dropping the cuttings on the ground. The deep tap root helps break up hard soils and pull nutrients from deep down and the plant can provide shade and a wind break for smaller plants.
Growing Pigeon Peas
Pigeon pea plants can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 15 and can grow up to 12 feet tall. The plants deep tap root can grow to up to six feet in length which helps the plant to locate water. For the first few months after germination the growth is slow but speeds up as the plant gets established. Most Pigeon pea cultivars are a short day plant blooming when nights are long. For best results start plants directly in ground although they can be started in pots and transplanted later.
Pigeon peas are easily propagated with dried seeds. They are not very picky about planting depth or soil type.
Pigeon Peas at Three Acre Paradise
Currently there is one area where Pigeon peas are growing at Three Acre Paradise. There are two plants that have grown to about ten feet high and wide. There were several other areas where they were planted but they were damaged by animals and did not recover. Next spring I will be starting two new areas and they will be better protected against damage.
The pictures in this post are of the same plants over a several month period.