Going nuts about the garden: how to grow your own...
Learn how to grow peanut plants, with top tips from a specialist grower
ARE you nuts for processed, salty snacks? Well, if you want to go down a healthier route, why not consider growing your own peanut plant?
You can grow your own peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) – also known as monkey nuts – out of doors, according to specialist breeder and grower Lubera (lubera.co.uk) as it launches a new range of five different varieties to cope with a changing climate, which it says can be grown unprotected in Ireland and Britain.
They're a novelty bedding alternative, with the fruiting mechanism of the plant hiding the fertilised flower in the soil to protect the valuable pods.
The look of the nuts is also a surprise. One of the new varieties, Justbehappy, produces red and white striped peanuts, two per pod. Others in the range feature seed coats in white, red, pink and almost black.
The company tested several dozen cultivars from South America against existing cultivars, and came up with four varieties which offer fast young plant development, a tolerance against colder weather and reliable ripening of the fruits in autumn. That's even if it is sometimes really moist or even wet when the plants are cultivated outside without any protection.
The aim was to create varieties that could withstand a lot of moisture and sometimes lower temperatures during the growing season, without the plant stopping its growth, and also deter the developed pods – which are in the process of maturing – from rotting in the soil.
How do you grow them? Lubera advises that, grown as annuals, like potatoes, peanuts like to be planted at the beginning to the middle of May in full sun, and prefer soil which is not too heavy. A sandy soil would be ideal.
They produce pretty small golden flowers (like peas, but smaller and brighter yellow) with extended stems that have to find their way into the soil after pollination. Then they force the developing nuts into the soil, where they grow.
Peanut plants make perfect companions for other vegetables, such as salads and radish.
When do you plant them? They should be planted in May and June, and can be harvested from mid-September to October when the leaves and shoots turn yellow to black.
Can you grow them in a pot? The new varieties can be grown in a large pot (from about 5-7L) or in a garden bed, with a planting distance of 30-50cm. The narrower the planting, the faster the soil is covered, but if you plant them too close together, you may not get such a good yield.
How many peanuts can be harvested? In trials, when planting the best varieties at the beginning to middle of May, up to 100 pods per plant were possible, Lubera found – that's more than 200 nuts per peanut plant, as each variety produces two nuts per pod.
The varieties Justmore(R) and Justblack(R) showed significantly less fruit rot than other selections when harvested very late in October. Plants will be available from Lubera from May.