Thursday, May 2, 2013
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...