Writer / Nancy Craig
With a name like goobers, what boy or girl could resist wanting to plant them? My great nieces and nephews are so excited to try some different vegetables to plant this season. We have decided to plant peanuts, sweet potatoes and a new tomato/potato plant called Ketchup ‘n’ Fries or TomTatos®.
Most of the peanuts in the USA are grown in the south, but now there are varieties that can be grown in the Midwest. In the South, most know the term goober or goober peas and know it is referring to peanuts. The name goober originates in Africa, and the first peanuts came to North America with the slaves from Africa. But the peanut has been grown in South America for thousands of years.
The most fun is learning how the peanut grows underground which gives it the name groundnuts. The flower of the peanut plant puts down a stem called a peg which grows down into the soil where the peg grows into peanuts. So when you harvest the peanuts, you pull up the entire plant and let the nuts dry. Actually, the peanut is not a nut but a legume!
Purdue consumer horticulture extension specialist, Rosie Lerner, has an article on growing peanuts. See her picture of the peanut plant at bit.ly/purdue_peanuts. Rosie says it is better to use raised beds to grow peanuts in the Midwest, so we are going to plant our peanuts in straw bales which I will write about in the April Center Grove Community Magazine.
We are going to get our peanuts and sweet potatoes slips from the Urban Farmer located in Westfield. They have a very large selection of seeds also online at ufseeds.com. The kids will like this book, “Garden to Table: A Kid’s Guide to Planting, Growing and Preparing Food” by Katherine Hengel, which has easy step-by-step planting, care and harvesting tips and 30 recipes for several vegetables like potatoes and tomatoes.
The peanut does have an interesting history. George Washington Carver, the plant scientist of the 1900s, was known as the Peanut Man. He developed over 300 manufactured products from peanuts. But today, we love our peanut butter and even have a National Peanut Butter Month (November) and a National Peanut Month (March). So celebrate peanuts this month by buying seeds to plant or trying out new recipes.