Thursday, May 2, 2013

Peanuts!



This photo is just because I like watching peanuts emerge from the soil so much.

For the purposes of this Year of Root Vegetables, I am counting peanuts as part of that clan even though they're not.  Don't peanuts grow under the ground, you ask?  Yes, they do, but not on the roots of the plant.  Every time I talk to someone about peanuts, I get all botanically starry-eyed and start saying "it's the coolest thing" and stuff like that, because really, peanuts are cool.  I had to look this up, but it turns out they are a prime example of geocarpy, which is the formation of seeds (or sometimes spores) under the soil.  As you watch your peanut plant grow, you see it forming its leguminous (pea-like) leaves and flowers, and then out of the flowers comes a stalk that dives for the soil and buries itself, and it's on this stalk that the peanuts form.

Getting peanuts to full ripeness is not a guarantee in our climate, which is why I'm starting the plants inside.  I'll plant them outside in a nice fluffy raised bed in another couple of weeks (parenthetically, looks like we might finally get warmer nighttime temperatures this weekend! I am so very tired of hauling multiple flats of seedlings in and out every day.  But soon now, it will be time to start complaining about the heat).  I hope that by fall we'll have a few peanuts to harvest.  Growing peanuts is great fun, but it's not the highest volume crop out there.  Grow a few and then buy the rest.

By the way, it's quite possible to grow peanuts in containers (one plant per).

If you happen to be allergic, I hope you have skipped this entire post...

6 comments:

  1. Erica, what is the status of peanut licensing requirements, and does that apply to home gardeners? I am referring to the requirement (abolished?) for farmers to have a license in order to grow peanuts.

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    1. I really know nothing about licensing laws for farmers who grow peanuts, but I'm quite sure they don't apply to home gardeners (unless, possibly, you are planning to sell your crop). If anyone has more information please do chime in.

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  2. Oh wow! That's so interesting. I had no idea that's what they looked like. I can't wait to see how they grow for you.

    KK

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  3. Hi Erica,

    Yes I knew how they grow and, just like you, I just think it is the coolest thing. I have never tried to grow them myself because of my kids and allergies (however they are heading to College soon!) What do you do with the peanuts once you have harvested them: eat them raw or do you roast them? How?
    And yes, so tired of hauling flats in and out of the garage!!

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    1. Sorry, never answered this! I think last time I grew peanuts I had two plants and produced about six peanuts, so deciding how to prepare them wasn't a huge deal. I might have pan-roasted them. Can't remember - will have to look up some possibilities while anticipating a bigger crop this year.

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  4. Erica and Sabine,

    You ladies need to invest in a couple of cold frames. I will send you a scan of a couple of pages from Crockett's Victory Garden which show how to build a cold frame out of a half sheet of plywood and either a greenhouse or corrugated fiberglass panel.

    I use mine starting in mid March through June 1 to harden off cool and warm season crops. Just close the top and plants are protected. Add several gallon milk jugs of water as a heat sink and you will get warmth radiating from the water throughout the night. In the fall, you can put them over lettuce and spinach beds to prolong the harvest.

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