Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Growing Peanuts for Peanuts

You may or may not be aware that March is National Peanut Month.

Yes, I too was surprised to learn that I live in a nation who felt such a month was required. But regardless of the logic, there it is. A month for celebrating the legume that has infiltrated nearly every home in America and caused allergy riots in elementary school cafeterias across the land.

I figure I will fix approximately 183,456 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches over the course of my four children's lives so I suppose a little celebration may not be out of the question though I have to say: forget the housing industry and Wall Street. If you really wanted to take down the American economy merely take peanut butter off the shelves and I suspect we'd all be lost.

Peanut PlantSo on a whim we decided to plant peanuts. It's cold outside but we're having fun inside watching our little peanuts grow. If you want to play along you'll need raw peanuts, not roasted. These can usually be found in health food stores and we really got crazy and bought Spanish peanuts. Just to spice things up a bit.

And now that I'm on the subject, the peanut plant is really quite interesting. As I understand it, the plant grows and flowers until the petals drop to the ground. At that point the inside of what was once the flower develops and grows into these funny alien-like shoots called "pegs" which spring from the plant and extend themselves down, pushing the tips still containing the seed into the ground where they form the actual peanuts--which aren't nuts at all but legumes. The 40 or so peanuts are harvested by uprooting them from the ground in the same way as potatoes and the whole process takes about 4 or 5 months. Interesting isn't it?

Well if we can ever get our little peanut plant to grow that big I think we'll have to repot it before we get to the alien-shoots-springing-from-the-side-phase or there could be trouble.

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Technorati tags: gardening

29 comments:

Michemily said...

That is interesting. I had no idea they grew in the dirt!

Lucy said...

Hey...I liked that post. Who knew. Not me. I do know that you if you get the hiccups, a teaspoonful of peanut butter will make them go away like magic. :)

Randy, Ally, and Wes said...

Very Cool. I totally want to try that now.

Jolanthe @ No Ordinary Moments said...

Do you know how big of a pot you need to grow them in? It would be a fun little project for the kids!

chelle said...

I had no idea that peanuts grew in the ground either ... interesting.

Cassie said...

If someone told me there was a national peanut month, I would have thought it would be November...that's when AL has it's National Peanut Festival. It's actually a lot of fun!

Laura Moffitt said...

This whole blog post is incredibly interesting because all of it was new to me.

Patois said...

Perhaps you can fill the gap the Georgia processor has left. I think you'll need to grow quite a few more, though.

Scribbit said...

Well to just start them you don't need anything bigger than a plastic cup I suppose, I just had an empty pot from my windowsill in the kitchen because I killed off another plant. You could transplant it when it got too big.

Kara said...

You definitely need to chronicle the progress of your plant - I want to see it at the alien-shoots-springing-from-the-side phase!

Oh - and how did the interview with Mary Lou go? Absolutely love her.

Octamom said...

Sounds like a great unit study for our homeschool! 2 of 8 always makes peanut brittle for M's office at Christmas and past year, M's assistant brought 2 of 8 fresh peanuts that she and her husband had grown. It was a neat experience for 2 of 8 to take that home-grown product and convert it into gifts for the office. Now we might be able to take it a step further!

Blessings!

jacjewelry said...

Yes, peanuts are really neat plants! They cause allergies because they are filled with proteins, just like other nuts, and all allergies are caused by proteins (eggs have tons and tons of proteins, that's why many people are allergic to eggs too)!

Hope you get to harvest some homemade peanuts - that would be neat!

Neas Nuttiness said...

Good luck with your peanuts!
I never liked peanut butter when I was a kid, but now I love it!

Kathy G said...

I learned about National Peanut Month last year about this time.

Facts from my research:
*Despite what everyone learned in school, George Washington Carver was not the inventor of peanut butter. Peanut butter was developed in 1890 as a nutritious protein substitute for people with poor teeth who couldn't chew meat.

CountessLaurie said...

Always something to be learned over here. I guess my only question now is when to harvest. If they are in the dirt, how do you know when they are ready? I would need a turkey timer...

Thanks for the continuing education!!

Brandi said...

I could go fro some boiled peanuts right about now. Maybe I should start growing them so I can boil them!

cndymkr / jean said...

Reading this post reminded me of making my own peanut butter as a kid. We had a Mr. Peanut! It probably made only a teaspoon at a time but I remember it being the best thing.

One Mom said...

I can remember rooting avocado pits in a glass of water when I was growing up in CA. My FIL used to push seeds from oranges into flowerpots sitting on the window ledge...and they would actually grow into little trees---never blossomed but it's always fun to watch nature do its thing!

M said...

My oldest daughter just came home with corn and bean plants from school...in February! In Minnesota!

I can't decide if her teacher is just mad at us or likes to create parent torture. Its going to be a trick keeping them alive until we can transplant them to the garden...in June. Ugh!

I can honestly say I have never thought about how peanuts grew. Very interesting.

Scribbit said...

Note: you have to plant them about an inch deep because as the roots go down the peanut part gets pushed up if it's too shallow. Also, it takes a long time to germinate. I think that plant there is about a month old.

Summer said...

I LOVE peanuts. I mean really really really love anything made with peanuts. I eat them raw, roasted, toffee coated, as peanut butter, in stir fry. You name it, I love peanuts no matter how they're served!

Melissa said...

We used to grow our peanuts in Mississippi. Sometimes we roasted them, but mostly we boiled them. Apparently boiled peanuts are a regional thing and an acquired taste, neither of which I realized until I moved to Texas. One of my children turns up his nose at them, like his father, but the other one LOVES to eat them with me. I have some from my dad in the freezer. I might just have to get them out now!

Mrs.Naz@BecomingMe said...

That is very cool. I did know they grow in the dirt (my husband is from GA and his family owns a farm and has grown peanuts before), but I never thought of growing them on a small scale before. I really enjoy your blog.

Cynthia said...

I remember growing peanuts in our garden one year when I was a kid. My son asked just the other day if we could grow some peanuts. Maybe we'll give it a try! Let us know how yours do!

Flea said...

I didn't know that about the flowers dropping and making the legume, though I've seen them pulled out of the ground before.

Speaking of legumes, here's a poem I read in a comic strip a bit ago, for your boys:

Beans, beans
The Charmed legume
Eat a can
And clear the room

And boiled peanuts? YUM.

John and Laura said...

SO interesting! Thanks for the botany lesson. funny that i had never once considered where peanuts came from.

Guinevere Meadow said...

I have relatives who live in Dothan Alabama, which is apparently the "peanut capital of the world."

Just thought you might find that interesting.

Janet said...

Now that could be a fun project. The Queen likes peanuts in the shell. She eats peanut butter too. The little picky DeBoy will have none of it.

Tamara said...

How did it turn out!? I'm curious!