Certified Organic (OPEN POLLINATED)
Breeder: Carol Deppe
Lady Northern Southern Pea (Cowpea)
An OSSI-Pledged Variety*
Breeder and author Carol Deppe bred this creamy Southern pea for the cooler summers and cold nights of maritime Oregon—though it thrives in the Northeast, and in hot climates, too. Developed from a “Lady” pea, prized for its culinary qualities, Fast Lady is delicious fresh or dried. Immature green pods release shelly peas that are sweet and succulent. (You can also sauté the whole young pods and young leaves.) The cooked dry beans have a memorably creamy texture and delicate flavor. 65 days to harvest for fresh shelling; 95 days for dry. Average 190 seeds/oz., 3,100 seeds/lb.
*The Open Source Seed Initiative Pledge: You have the freedom to use these OSSI-Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.
Our Fast Lady seeds were produced organically in Oregon. Each Fast Lady seed sold supports Carol Deppe’s plant breeding research.
Oregon-based plant breeder and author Carol Deppe has spent decades developing varieties for flavor, vigor, productivity and organic adaptation, and has inspired countless plant breeders, farmers and home gardeners to do likewise. That work is embodied in this distinctive Southern pea, a soil-rejuvenating crop bred for earliness in the field and creaminess on the plate.
Southern peas, also known as cowpeas, originated in West Africa and are foundational to African diaspora foodways in the American South and beyond. Carol recalls eating green shelly Southern peas while living in Georgia as a teenager. The memory of their flavor inspired her to plant a trial of several Southern pea varieties at her home in Corvallis, OR, hoping to find at least one that would mature in maritime Oregon’s cool summers and cold nights. Only a single plant from one line—a Lady pea—was early enough to produce dry seed.
“There was one completely dry plant with pods full of dried beans, happy as can be,” Carol recalls. The special plant, the result of a natural mutation in the field, was also much more determinate than the rest, with a more compact, bushier plant habit.
Lady peas date back to the early 1800s, noteworthy for their small, cream-colored peas, delicate skins and fine-grained texture. Whereas many cowpea varieties were valued for forage or cover crops due to their nitrogen-fixing abilities, Lady peas were specifically prized for their culinary excellence.
Deppe saved seed from the single Lady pea plant and grew it out, selecting for earliness, bush type and vigor in her climate and organic growing conditions. After eight years of selection, she arrived at a uniform variety that had the same outstanding flavor as the original Lady pea parent but would also produce abundantly in her region. She named it Fast Lady Northern Southern Pea, a nod to its earliness and northern adaptation—though it thrives in hot climates, too.
Fast Lady is delicious fresh or dried. Immature green pods release shelly peas that are sweet and succulent, with a delightful pop. (You can also sauté the whole young pods and young leaves.) The cooked dry beans are memorably creamy and delicate. Like other Southern peas, Fast Lady cooks quickly and evenly without soaking.
The Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) is dedicated to maintaining fair and open access to plant genetic resources worldwide in order to ensure the availability of germplasm to farmers, gardeners, breeders, and communities of this and future generations.
Dr. Jessica B. Harris has written extensively on the foodways of the African Diaspora, including the culinary history, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America.
DAYS TO HARVEST
65 days for fresh shelling; 95 days for dry
4-6” between plants; 2-3’ between rows
Direct sow seeds 1” deep after last frost, when soil temperatures reach at least 60˚F. For a continuous harvest of green shelly beans, sow additional plantings every two weeks until the weather warms beyond 70˚F. For fall harvest, sow 8-10 weeks before the first frost date.
Semi-bush habit with 7-8” pods. Semi-determinate plants are northern-adapted, but also thrive in hot climates.
Green pods can be picked immature for fresh shelling. Pick when pods are still green but seeds are swollen inside. For dry peas, cut whole plants when they have dried down. If the plants remain green or partially green when you need to harvest, cut whole plants and pile on tarps and put in front of fans under cover, and/or bring tarps outdoors on sunny days. Turn piles of plants regularly to facilitate drying and prevent molding.
Average 190 seeds/oz., 3,100 seeds/lb.
Delicious for fresh or dried use.
Quickly sauté shelled fresh Southern peas. Add salt and a splash of water. Cover with lid for 30 seconds. Season and serve.
Simmer dried Southern peas with salt and aromatics (garlic, lemon, herbs, chiles) until tender, about 30 minutes. Like other Southern peas, Fast Lady cooks quickly and evenly without soaking.
Breeder Carol Deppe especially likes to use the cooked dry beans as a delicious gluten-free substitute for rice or pasta.