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.
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?