30 Apr 2013 2 Comments
These delightful little nuts are a joy to grow. Not only do they mature through the summer season, they take their time doing so–while YOU go on vacation! Yep, plant these puppies in April/May and check back in July/August to reap your bounty!
Okay, just kidding. You don’t want to leave anything alone that long–except maybe your bathroom scale–because who knows what could pay your garden a visit in the meantime? Not that peanuts are prone to insects or disease, they aren’t really. Pretty tolerant from what I can see and living with me–plants need to be tough. I vacation! I write! I have other things to do! (Don’t we all?)
That said, optimum practice is to “visit” your garden on a daily basis. Not “work” or “weed” or “water” but simply visit. Say it with me: “Ah…it’s so lovely out here among the beds of lush green fruits and veggies.”
It is. Relaxing, rewarding, soothing to the soul. And peanuts won’t mind if you skip a day or two. Trust me, when June hits, the kids and I skee-daddle from the garden! (It’s the only way I can keep them motivated during the school year. :))
Key to growing peanuts is soft soil, because like potatoes and carrots, peanuts grow underground. Peanuts can take up to two weeks to produce results! One thing to be mindful of when planting your peanuts, is these little guys like their calcium (probably why they’re so yummy with milk!), so be sure to check your soil or go ahead and add some eggshells for good measure. Don’t worry if you don’t see sprouts right away.
Once they bloom, about 30-40 days after germination, they’ll start dropping “pegs” into the soil where the peanuts will develop. Once this happens, you’ll want to mulch with a layer of hay or straw. You can also cover with an added layer of loose soil. Just keep it loose and easy they’ll be happy.
The students understand easy AND summer vacation. That’s why they’re tilling up a storm and planting their peanuts now–is there a better way to keep the garden healthy while they’re away on break? Nope. Except maybe for sweet potatoes. (LOVE them!) Once planted, students need only return in August and reap their reward. Easy. I like it!
We planted the Valencia variety because it takes well to Florida growing conditions. You can also grow Spanish, Virginia and Runner. The latter two are low, bushy plants which have two large seeds per pod. Spanish (best choice for cooler regions) and Valencia are more erect and have smaller seeds. To me, they’re all good.
Once you’re ready to harvest, test for ripeness by lifting plant with a garden fork. A ripe peanut will feel firm, with dry papery outer skin. When ready, gently remove entire plant from the soil and allow to dry in the sun for 2-3 days, then remove peanuts from the plants and allow to fully dry in a warm dry location for about 2 – 3 weeks. This curing process will ensure better storage.
Next up, eat them! Roast your peanuts, make peanut butter or try our Southern Boiled Peanuts recipe. Either way you like them, peanuts are a wonderfully healthy snack. Enjoy!
Caution: don’t eat your peanuts straight from the ground as they contain a mild toxin that will upset your belly. Cure them first. Also, if your peanuts get moldy, do not eat them. The aspergillus fungus can grow in moist conditions, and produces aflatoxin which is toxic in humans.