It’s that time of the year when we all love to cuddle up in warm comforters and give ourselves a treat of roasted peanuts. Have you ever thought of growing your own peanuts?
Pick your peanut
There are four types of peanuts; Runner, Spanish, Virginia and Valencia. Runner is famous for making peanut butter. Spanish peanuts are known for their small size which is ideal for use as roasted snacks. Virginia has the biggest kernels while Valencia kernels are covered with bright red skin and are known for its sweetness. Simply select the one you like the most. Keep in mind the size, texture, flavour and also the use.
Peanuts are warm season crops and need four to five months of warm weather. In Karachi, the most suitable months to plant peanuts are from April to June. They can be planted directly into the ground as soon as the winter ends. Peanut plants need sandy and well-drained soil. If your city doesn’t get sufficient rainfall, provide your peanut plants with regular irrigation.
Tip: Save your favourite peanuts this winter for growing in the summers.
Peanuts belong to the bean family. After two to seven days of sowing the seeds, bright green pinnate leaves sprout. The plant grows fast and its buds open up into yellow pea-like flowers with orange stripes. As the flower dries out and withers away, a stalk which is called the pedicel grows from it and goes down a few inches into the ground. This is where the peanut pods will grow and mature. The whole plant is pulled out when it is time to harvest.
Plot or pot?
Peanuts grow well in the ground or on a plot but growing them in a pot is almost the same. If you are using a piece of land to grow peanuts, plant a peanut kernel with a space of 12 inches between the plants and of 18inches between the rows. The plant spreads as it grows. For growing peanuts in pots, select a container 12-18 inch deep, with almost the same diameter.
Plant your peanuts
Once you have decided which type of peanut you want to grow and where you want to plant it, make holes one-and-a-half to two inches deep and put a peanut inside and cover it with soil. Make sure that the red or brown skin is not disturbed. Water it gently and keep it in the sun. Plant as many as you want.
I planted mine last May and the second batch in August. My peanuts did brilliantly in the ground as well as in the pots. It was a great learning experience for me and my students. They are saving some peanuts this season. Why don’t you save some peanuts as well this winter, for growing in the next season? You might end up saying the same, “I grow peanuts. Do you?”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2011.