Some of my readers may be experienced fruit and veg growers, yet there will be few who have attempted to grow peanuts! This tender annual is somewhat of a rarity in the U.K. Not only is it a great novelty to be able to grow these plants, they are also quite decorative with their pea-like leaflets and yellow flowers. Growing these delicious nuts, or more strictly speaking legumes, is perhaps something we should all try at least once in our lifetime. They are also known as monkey nuts or ground nuts.
Thompson & Morgan have made available Peanut Mandala, the best variety for growing in our cooler climate. These plants require quite a long growing season. Young plants are available, so a shorter growing season is possible, as opposed to starting them off yourself.
Pot the plants into a light sandy compost in small pots and keep warm in a greenhouse or conservatory to mimic their native conditions. Around mid to late May plant your young peanut plants into a large container, at least 30cm deep by 45cm and continue to grow in a greenhouse or conservatory. Water well in warm spells. The plants will have an evenual height and spread of up to 50cm (20″).They then produce small, yellow flowers from which multiple long ‘pins’ grow on each plant. These pins push the developing ovaries into the ground, which eventually mature into peanuts.
Peanuts are ready to harvest when the plants begin to die back in autumn. On a warm dry day pull the whole plant up out of the container, keeping the roots intact. Remove the soil and allow the roots to dry in the greenhouse, which should be well ventilated. Once dry, your peanuts are ready to eat. And what a treat they will be. I would recommend them as a fun crop to grow with children or grandchildren, or just as a great achievement for the keen gardener or allotment grower. It certainly makes a change from cabbages!
To view young Peanut Mandala plants from Thompson & Morgan click here
All images copyright Thompson & Morgan
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