Good nitrogen fixer, great for encouraging wildlife and grazing
Close relative of Garden or English peas, but this variety is grown as a cover crop. As hardy as Hairy Vetch and good as a nitrogen fixer, but more adapted to drier or alkaline soil. Can be sown in early spring in cooler climates. Good weed competitor, does well in heavy soils, and fixes 70-125 lb of Nitrogen/acre. Grows to 3' if supported. Matures early (April in warm areas), attracting beneficial insects to the growing area at the start of the season. Good protein source in forage mixtures. In most areas, sow in early-mid fall on well-drained soil. Seed at 2-4 lb/1000 sq ft or 70-120 lb/acre.
Raw seed, requires Pea-Vetch or Garden Combination inoculantPisum arvense
Austrian Winter Pea
Sometimes called "black pea" or "field pea," Austrian Winter Peas are a great cool season annual cover crop that is planted in fall to protect the soil over the winter and produce an abundance of organic matter in spring. Because it's a member of the legume family, it is extremely efficient at fixing nitrogen.
- Ease of Growing
- Grown as
- Days to Maturity
- 60-180 (Fall/Winter)
- Growing Habit
Germinates and grows in cooler soils than most legumes and withstands temperatures to 10° F.
- Growing Season
- Short, Long
- Cultivar Type
- Growing Conditions
- Cold, Cool, Warm
Austrian Winter Peas grow best in cooler temperatures with plenty of moisture. These plants are sensitive to heat, and will not do as well in temperatures over 80˚ F.
- Outdoor Growing Temp
- 40°F - 85°F
- Min Outdoor Soil Temp
Most cool weather cover crop should be started when temperatures are still in the 60's to allow the plants to establish before winter. Established plants are hardier than seedlings and better able to survive the winter Winterkill.
- Start Indoors
- Start Outdoors
- Sun: min. 6 hours daily (Cold, Cool)
Cover crops need full sun when growing in winter, as days are shorter and the sun is lower in the sky. If grown in summer many will tolerate light shade (though they grow best in full sun).
Most of these crops are not particularly drought tolerant and will need regular watering in dry climates (especially when germinating and getting established). However they are mostly grown during the winter when the soil is fairly moist, so don't usually require much irrigation.
You do not need to fertilize cover crop in established gardens, as there will be plenty of nutrients in the garden to meet their needs. Since you will be incorporating them back in to the soil, growing them doesn't remove any nutrients from the soil.
The leguminous cover crops also fix nitrogen and eventually add it to the soil.
- Tolerates light frost
- Small Gardens?
- Attracts beneficial insects?
- Fruit Size
- Plant Height
- Plant Diameter
- Hardiness Zone
- Disease Resistance
- Taste Profile
The young foliage tastes of green peas and can be quite good, but the plant isn't normally grown as food.