Saturday, October 29, 2011

Oh Me, of Little Faith...


Gardeners like to be different. They enjoy pushing zone limits and growing out-of-the-ordinary plants. I'm no different. (How's that for being contradictory?) Each year, I try to grow something that I've never grown before. Rarely do I consciously plan for what that might be. I might be inspired by reading about something that someone else is growing this year and decide I want to try that next year. I might see something in a garden I've visited and be motivated to grow what I've seen.

This year, my inspiration came as it commonly does - through a stroll down the rows of a nursery, where something catches my eye and a little voice shouts, "Buy it!" When I was in Cleveland earlier this year, I made a stop at one of my favorite garden centers, Petitti's at Avon. As long as I live, I will never escape their doors without hauling out a cartload of plants. They foster that kind of thing, and I willingly succumb to their plantly wiles.

Among other things, I purchased some leek starts, which I'm happy to report grew very well and we're harvesting them as needed now. Milder than the onions we grew, I've used them in chili and in salads and they're absolutely delicious and sweet.


I also found some peanut plants and bought three of them. Peanuts! What could be more fun than growing your own peanuts? I had a large clay pot (18" in diameter) which had lost its bottom, so I sank it into the garden a little bit and filled it with soil. I planted all three peanut plants in it and they grew like gangbusters. It didn't take long before I realized that the pot was barely big enough for one plant, let alone three. But vigorous growers will find a way to do their thing.

The long, hot, dry summer wore on and the peanut plants didn't skip a beat. I never saw a droopy leaf and they bloomed with lovely pea-like golden flowers (they're both legumes and in the same family) and I hoped I'd get a few peanuts. But I became doubtful when I finally got around to reading just how a peanut grows.

I knew the peanuts developed underground and I had assumed (wrongly) that they grew the peanuts on their roots. Nope. The plant flowers, then where the flower was, it develops what's commonly called a "peg." This peg finds its way to the soil and buries itself down in. It is from these pegs that the peanuts develop and grow underground.

What this meant was, that my peanut pegs were going to have to somehow manage to travel over the edge and down the side of the pot about a foot to the soil surface. Not likely to happen. So I toyed with the idea of transplanting them from the pot to the ground, but you know how that goes. I just never got around to it and the plants looked so good just growing in that pot and blooming their pretty yellow blooms. I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't get peanuts this year after all. Oh well.

It's autumn now and I've had a few odds and ends to do in the garden to ready it for winter. This includes cleaning out any clay pots that have plants and soil in them and taking them in so they don't crack over winter. Earlier this week, I decided to tear out the peanut plants, disappointed that I hadn't done my homework and had pretty much neglected them.

I pulled out the first plant and whoa! What are those? PEANUTS! I had peanuts on my peanut plants. I'm not kidding. I had peanuts on all three plants! No, there weren't many and some of them developed above the ground (these were tiny), but I grew peanuts. For real.

 

Each plant had 8-9 peanuts on them, for a total of 26 peanuts in all. I cut them off the plant and rinsed them off. Now I'm going to roast them and eat them.

Someone called me a chicken farmer the other day. Add peanut farmer to that, will you?



16 comments:

Alison said...

I love this! Gardens are just full of surprises, even when we think we know what's going on, nature always finds a way to tell us otherwise.

Lea said...

Hello, I was just reading some blogs and discovered another person growing a few peanuts:
http://greenbowgardens.blogspot.com/
You should visit each other!

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

That's pretty cool! Nice surprise.

Terra said...

I think you may be my gardening sister, since we both like to plant things that are new to us, and to push the zone thing. I like that you actually grew peanuts. A squirrel plants them all over my garden and they sprout but haven't produced any peanuts for us. Well done, peanut farmer.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This post is timely Kylee. I just wrote about the peanuts my DB harvested today. I am so glad you went into such detail. I didn't plant our peanuts the squirrels and Blue Jays did. They "hide" peanuts for later that we put out for them during winter and they pop up all around the garden. I will have to try roasting some. I didn'tknow what to do with them. I tried one today without doing anything to it. It tasted like a boiled peanut. UGH That flavor is an acquired taste. Enjoy your peanuts.

Diana said...

What a great story! So happy that you had such a successful experiment and are getting to eat the fruits of your labor. And thanks for all the interesting info, too. DH and I were wondering if they put nitrogen back into the soil or take it out. I think the whole peg concept is just amazing.

Claudia said...

Too fun! I always think of the deep South when I think of peanuts - Jimmy Carter and all. I'm surprised you had a long enough growing season for peanuts. Thanks for the insight.

Commonweeder said...

that is impressive. And what fun!

Kylee said...

Alison ~ Hi, Alison! You're right! And that's part of what makes gardening so fun, isn't it? :-)

Lea ~ I hadn't read Lisa's post yet, but I actually know her! She visited Our Little Acre a couple of years ago. :-)

David ~ I thought so, too!

Terra ~ Hey, Soil Sister! Yes, I love a challenge and sometimes my choices are just that. Growing these peanuts was a fun thing to do, especially when I actually got peanuts at the end of it!

Lisa ~ I'll have to pop over and read about it! I would never have thought to try a raw peanut. Thanks for the warning about the taste!

Diana ~ Being a legume, yes they do add nitrogen to the soil. I love how these plants do that! And I think the peg mechanism is intriguing too!

Pat ~ Yes, I'm glad I did it!

Rainforest Gardener said...

You're too funny! I've been planning on planting peanuts for some time since they'd be a perfect match to the lemongrass and ginger for a Thai dish, but never seem to remember when I'm plant shopping! Thanks for sharing the great photos of the roots...

Layanee said...

And next year you will be making peanut butter. I am sure of it.

Amy Junod said...

What fun!

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

This is great, Kylee. They grew them at the Teaching Gardens where our Master Garden classes meet. That was the first time I'd ever seen them...just 2 wks ago. Now you are the 2nd I've seen...all within a couple of wks apart! Thanks for sharing!

Helen said...

I learned how peanuts grow in the community garden we visited in Indy. They're quite the resourceful plant. Congratulations on your harvest.

Rainforest Gardener said...

The Internet ate my comment! Anyways, I was just saying that I love the idea of growing peanuts and it was nice to see how you did it. :)

Ali said...

Fantastic! I can't wait to try it! Our horses old water tank rusted out so I begged my hubby not to take it to the scrap yard and let me plant in it...maybe I can try a peanut plant or two in it as it is pretty large. Oooh I am excited! Thanks for the great info! =D

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