The annual “I won’t grow that again” plant

P1010312Groundnuts:  ngubu, from the Bantu Kikongo language:  goobers, or peanuts

Every year I attempt to grow a few new-to-me plants.  One never knows what’ll do well here until one tries it, right?  And this year’s experimental plant was peanuts, in the greenhouse.

Ostensibly, this plant was a perfect candidate:  requiring 120-150 days to mature, it is self-fertile, prefers warm temperatures, and prefers sandy-loam soil.  Excepting the latter, I could meet all the requirements it needs; my soil isn’t sandy-loam in the greenhouse but it’s as close as I am ever going to get to it, barring a midnight raid with a flatbed truck to the beach a mile away.  So.  I ordered a variety from Southern Exposure that likes our clay and northern climate, uprooted three beds of lettuces back in April, and planted them.

They were slow to grow, but eventually became monster plants.  The yellow/orange flowers wrinkle up after pollination and bury themselves in the ground, ripening to a single seedpod.  I watched and I watched the flowers wrinkle and aim downward…and never bury themselves.  Even when I staked them to the ground, they didn’t do much in the way of peanut-making.  The plants were spectacular, fleshy-leaved specimens that showed no signs of knowing The End was coming.  And The End was, once I noticed that someone had been harvesting them for me.

Voles!  Hungry little diggers they are.  I wouldn’t say that half my harvest went to them, but probably a third did.

So, I pulled them all up.  I got probably two gallons’ worth of nuts (in their shells mind) for a single packet of seeds.  That’s a decent harvest, but…I don’t like to share.  No more peanuts here, absolutely none for the voles.

P1010315

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10 responses to “The annual “I won’t grow that again” plant

  1. You could try planting them in big buckets so the voles can’t get to them. I plant my potatoes like that and it makes them really easy to harvest.

  2. Maybe we’ll try them. I think the kids would enjoy, and if there’s one thing we have, it’s sand. . . I don’t know about the long growing time.

    My “not anymore” plant is eggplant. I just don’t like it but I grow them — and I never can figure out why. I’ve gotten the message with radishes, but eggplant takes a while. Maybe I’m hoping that I’ll figure out a low-fat recipe that I like with them. Or I could just stop!

    It still seems like a good harvest.

  3. The voles don’t bother mine – the rabbits eat them first.

  4. El, this is one of those plants I place high on the list of things that love to grow in the District of Columbia. Our problem is, we never get around to eating the nuts.

  5. Well, ya done good. Anyway.
    Do you want any Delicata seeds? Can I just dry them and send them to you? (And, how many?)

  6. El, thanks for the feedback on peanuts. I’ve been mulling them for next year, and am less keen based on your report. An avid gardening friend who grew up in Africa is fond of growing them, but even he reports only so-so yields in our area. The bucket idea is a possibility though.

  7. Hi Everett! Thanks for the tip, but my experience is voles can CLIMB buckets too. I am telling you, it’s WAR. Luckily, they like sunflower seeds, and are dim enough to grab them in a mousetrap.

    Stef, hah! I should get the message with beets, as I grow tons and only I eat them. But no. Eggplant, though: make some caviar, as there’s nearly no fatty stuff in that. Slice in half, brush cuts with olive oil, roast like a squash on a baking sheet, then scoop out, adding mashed garlic and salt and whatever else you like (when still warm, I add goat cheese) and spread on toast. YUM.

    David! Hah. Bunnies. Good eating, wild rabbit…fair is fair, you know? Consider it a second harvest if you shoot ’em in the peanut patch.

    Ed, what? You don’t eat them? Wow. I have mine in the pantry, just waiting for a day to roast them. Yum.

    CC, let’s do a trade. I will send off some other winter squash seeds to you. How big is your yard? But seriously, just a few would be fine. But: I think you need to grow this one warty pumpkin thing. You’d love it.

    Yeah Kate with your friend it could just be a matter of love, as love makes you do silly things like grow plants that don’t like your area. I kind of don’t think the bucket trick will work unless the bucket is a bathtub. The plants get to be about 2′ tall THEN flop over to bury their flowers at the ends of the plant, so the bucket just doesn’t have the requisite surface area. The potatoes, though, would probably work well. And bush-type sweet potatoes should too.

  8. I tried an edible lupine this year – has same number of seeds in the pods as I planted. Not going to do that again. Also tried oca, but just lost them to frost. Next year in greenhouse, maybe.

    What other experiments have you tried? So interesting to read about unusual things.

  9. ej, yeah, it’s somehow not enough to just grow what everyone else grows, is it? Like trying to find some unknown treasure. I don’t quite know what it is. What I have to continually tell myself is “This plant is unknown (or not widely grown) probably for a good reason.” That oca, for example. There are so many varieties of it, and if it holds true like its other clover-like relatives then it’s probably still alive in your garden! But yeah lupine, wasn’t tempted to grow that at all. This was quite frankly a fairly unexperimental year for me. If anything I am simply trying to make refinements to the things that grow well here, and expanding (barely) outward with some of those favorites. We might never find the perfect tomato, for example 🙂

  10. You’re scaring me! I’m saving a few for myself, and you get the rest. They are so lovely.

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