Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pretty Peanuts

It's peanut harvest time!  Over the weekend, Bella and I enjoyed the magic of pulling food right out of the ground.  

Are peanuts peas or nuts?  Officially, they're peas in the legume family (a great choice for a food-supplying nitrogen-fixer!)  But peanuts are unique in that they grow their seeds under the ground on pegs that grow downward after the flower is pollinated.  

This year I tried a new variety of peanut called "Carolina Black."  It's a beautiful peanut with an interesting history that intrigues me.  It's also an heirloom variety, so I can save seeds for next year, something I've been unable to do in the past with my hybrid varieties.  With their dark purple color, their so artistic I'm *almost* hesitant to eat them.  

Here is an account of the variety's history from http://www.southernexposure.com/carolina-black-peanut-28-g-p-841.html:

"A rare heirloom black-skinned peanut from N. Carolina. [ Introduced 1999 by SESE from seed sent by Derek Morris.] One of the varieties grown during the 1800s was the 'African' peanut (also known as the 'N. Carolina' peanut). It may have been a black peanut, possibly the same as the variety we call 'Carolina Black'. According to food historian William Woys Weaver, the black peanut may have been used as a substitute for black Bambarra (African ground nut) by the black community. Black Bambarra is important in African folk medicine as an aphrodisiac. The N. Carolina climate won't support black Bambarra, but the black peanut grows there without difficulty. 'Carolina Black' produces sweet tasting, black-skinned peanuts that are slightly larger than 'Spanish' peanuts."

Did he say "aphrodisiac"?  Gotta get me some of that Bambarra!

Anyway...when we finished pulling them out of the ground, we hung them on the back porch clothesline to dry.

I covered them with a homemade shadecloth to keep the direct sunlight from reducing my germination rates for next year's garden.

Though I wish they could dry outside on the plants for another week or two, I'm going to remove the peanuts from the plants and let them finish drying inside because we have a pretty serious frost/freeze coming this weekend and I don't want any of the peanuts I save for seeds damaged.

The ones we don't save for seed with either be roasted or boiled and enjoyed as a delicious snack!

If you live in a zone with at least 150 frost-free days and you haven't tried growing peanuts, give it a try!  Here in Zone 7b we sow them in May and harvest them in October.  

Happy gardening!

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