Valencia

Football Means Peanuts!

Football season has kicked off and that means boiled peanuts! South of the Mason-Dixon line, anyway. Down here you can’t go to a football game or tailgate party without your Styrofoam cup of steaming peanuts. Just isn’t done.

Now as nature would have it, your peanuts are ready to be pulled from the ground right about now. A few eager beavers might have already done so, but for the bulk of us—now’s the time. Your blooms have gone, your pegs have dropped and your leaves have yellowed.

peanuts pulled from the ground

To harvest, you’ll want to lightly dig down around one of your plants to check their progress. Using a fork, gently lift the pegs from the dirt.  A ripe peanut will feel firm, its outer shell somewhat dry and “papery.”   More

Time to Plant Peanuts

Peanuts are easy and fun.  Not only do they mature through the summer season, they take their time doing so–while YOU go on vacation!  Simply plant these gems Yep, plant in May and check back in August/September to reap your bounty!

Okay, just kidding.  You don’t want to leave anything alone that long–except maybe your laundry chores–because who knows what could pay your garden a visit in the meantime? And I’m not kidding. I planted my peanuts last weekend only to stroll along the beds during the week to discover this.

peanut debris

I did not remove those sprouts from the dirt. Some friendly “visitor” did. Not sure if it’s a squirrel or raccoon, but whoever it was likes peanuts but not the sprouts. I’m leaning toward the “bad boy” squirrel and his pals. Not happy with those varmints.

critter peanut thief

Other than theft, peanuts are easy and trouble-free. Not prone to insects or disease, they are pretty tolerant and gardening with me–plants need to be tough.  I vacation!  I write!  I have other things to do!  (Don’t we all?) More

Peantus Dropping Pegs

As your peanut plants grow, it’s a good practice to till the soil around them. Once they blossom, the petals will fall off and the plant will drop “pegs” down into the loose soil around the plant–key word: LOOSE. The peg is a narrow root like branch that makes up the flower stem and peanut embryo. Once it buries itself in the soil, the new peanuts will form.

add compost to peanut plants

But if the soil is too compacted–as is the case with ours due to recent heavy rains–you’ll want to lightly till around your plants. Peanuts grow underground and the softer the soil, the more easily they’ll grow. And you want to make it easy for them to grow, don’t you?

peanuts like soft soil

Of  course you do! I also amended my peanut bed with compost to ensure they receive adequate nourishment throughout their growing season. We’ll talk more about that when the time comes. (The plants above are showing the first signs of yellow blooms which means the pegs won’t be far behind!) About two months after your peanut plants have bloomed, check for peanuts.

Happy Gardening!

Planting Peanuts

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!

peanut roots

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.”  More

Peanuts! Peanuts! Get Your Peanuts!

It’s that time again when peanut blossoms take center stage.  Gorgeous and delicate, these sweet yellow beauties are the sign of good things to come.  Below the bright green leaves are spindly legs—better known as “pegs”—bend down in search of soft dirt.  Once found, they bury themselves for the process of forming peanuts.  Like carrots, they prefer loose soil (makes it easier to reach down and form nice full shells).  At this point, you may want to mulch around their base, much like you do for your potatoes.

Memories from last year’s crop drift into the forefront of my mind.  I love peanuts.  Not only because they’re easy to grow, low maintenance—what, we’re growing peanuts?—partial toFlorida’s heat and practically pest resistant, but because they remind me of my childhood.

Football season is right around the corner and my mom used to treat us to pots full of boiled peanuts.  She’d add salt, despite my suggestion to the contrary (her mother was from South Georgia and I don’t believe these folks ever met a dish with too much salt) and let him soak stove top for hours.  Me?  I like a bit of Cajun spice in mine.  Salt only makes me retain water and that I can do without!

If you’ve never grown peanuts for yourself, you should.  Kids love peanut butter and it’s a recipe they’ll enjoy making at home, not to mention hubby may appreciate the boiled or roasted version—as they mix quite well with a frosty mug of sudsy beer. 

When planting your peanuts, be sure to include rich organic compost and/or composted manure.  And throw in a hand-full of crushed eggshells.  These nuts really like the calcium kick!  Here in Florida, we grow Valencia peanuts which take about 3-4 months until harvest. 

If you remember, we simply cracked open the shell and buried the peanut.  About two months after bloom, when your leaves begin to yellow, you’ll want to lightly dig down around one of your plants to check their progress—easy to use a fork to lift the pegs from the dirt.  A ripe peanut will feel firm, its outer shell somewhat dry and “papery.” 

Once ready, gently pull entire plant from the soil, shake off the excess dirt and lay on a screen in the sun for 2-3 days before shelling to cure.  This is for the purpose of longer storage.  If you’re boiling your peanuts, you want them green.  Do not attempt to boil roasted peanuts.  They’ve already been cooked!

But don’t worry—if your peanuts have already dried out and you get a craving for boiled peanuts, you’re in luck!  By soaking dried nuts for 24 hours you can “re-hydrate” them prior to the boiling process.  Check my recipe section for details.

Aflatoxin is listed as a concern with raw peanuts, mostly when there’s too much moisture.  Most sources I read suggest this risk is reduced by drying and more so by roasting.  Boiling may eliminate this problem altogether! 

Hey…   Maybe that’s why it started?  Peanuts are also healthier when cooked—something about the heating process releases their nutrients for easier absorption. Either way, peanuts are a great crop.  They’re easy to grow, easy to harvest and make for a great fall season snack—roasted, boiled or even eaten raw (with caution, of course).