We had our first killing frost Friday night. As I was backing out my driveway at 7:15 am on Saturday, I saw the frost and cursed myself for not getting all of my plants taken care of. Needless to say I have been attending to the garden this weekend and the project I am most excited about are the peanuts.
You may remember my war with the squirrels in the spring over who owned these peanut plants! I won the battle but was not ready to declare the victor until the plants had been harvested. Well, I call it. I WON!!! I outsmarted a bushy tailed rodent.
|I kid you not, he watched me harvest the peanuts.|
I grew these Virginia peanuts from seed, indoors under grow lights and then planted them out in the spring. They need five months of sun to reach maturity and I knew it was a gamble with the unpredictability of the New England weather, but nothing ventured, nothing gained! After losing a row of plants to the squirrels the first night I planted them out, I protected them with a row cover until the plants were more mature. They have been growing happily, first flowering and then sending down pegs into the soil where the nuts developed.
With the amazing weather we have had this fall, the gamble paid off and these plants received five months of sun, followed by a killing frost, which was not supposed to happen. I went into the garden to harvest the peanuts and immediately saw frost damage on the plants…..not a good sign. Using a pitch fork to gently loosen the earth, I grabbed the plant and pulled. Up came the plant along with ten or so dangling peanuts. Success! Working along the rows, pulling up the plants, it was the same story repeated each time. I had grown peanuts in New England.
My peanut guide told me to leave the peanuts on the plant, outside in the sun, on a screen for three days. If I did that, do you know how many peanuts I’d have left? Exactly zero. Party chez squirrels! Another source suggested hanging them in a warm dry place for two to four weeks until the nuts are completely dry. So I brought them inside and hung them from my grow lights.
You need 540 peanuts to make a 12oz jar of peanut butter. I have nowhere near that many nuts but I have enough to roast and have as a snack with my family. I’ve had a lot of fun growing this crop this year and I’m thrilled to get any kind of a harvest. It just goes to show, as a gardener, don’t be afraid to break the rules, but try new things that interest you. Whatever the result you will learn something about your garden (and feeling smarter than a squirrel can be enough to make your day).