Fagiolina del Trasimeno (Little Bean of Lake Trasimeno)
Fagiolina del Trasimeno is a small, savory, black-eyed pea that has been grown by home gardeners in the hills and fields around the Lake Trasimeno area of Umbria, Italy for centuries. These creamy and delicious peas cook quickly without soaking because they are so small. You can add them to rice or risotto and both will be ready at the same time, with much added flavor, texture, and nutrition. It requires harvest almost everyday and so it has been threatened with extinction as the world moves towards mechanized agriculture. The Provincia di Perugia funded an exploration of the various cowpeas grown in this region, and the University of Perugia created a seed bank of the findings, helped multiply the available seed, and facilitated taste tests, field tests, and workshops to promote the varieties to the regional growers. Since then, other local organizations, governmental bodies, Slow Food, and even gourmet academies have taken on the efforts to preserve and promote this particularly delicious local heirloom through recipe and meal sharing, agri-tourism, and protective status. This variety is cream colored with a black eye. There is another multi-colored selection of Fagiolina del Trasimeno.
Of course, this species was domesticated in West Africa. It was first documented in Greece in 300 BC, and must have spread through Southern Europe from there, taking on new forms as it traveled over the centuries from village to village.
Days to maturity: 85
Seeds per pack: 40
Planting / harvesting notes
Direct sow black-eyed peas safely after frost, any time between late May and mid-July. This is a climbing vine crop, so it needs to be planted next to a structure or trellis. Plant 1" deep with 3-4" spacing, either in 1 row on each side of the net trellis or in another arrangement if using a different kind of trellis, like a pole or garden sculpture. Being a legume, it does fairly well in and adds nitrogen to poor soil.
Seed keeping notes
Black-eyed peas are self-pollinating, though it is best to isolate different varieties of V. unguiculata (including black-eyed peas, southern peas, cowpeas, and long beans) at least 20 feet, if not much farther to avoid unwanted cross-pollination. Allow beans to dry fully into a brown crispy state. This is when they are ready to harvest for seed. If necessary, lay them out to dry a little longer in their pods.