I dug peanuts the other night for the first time ever. I did the math and determined that approximately 130 days had passed since I shelled the seeds and thumbed them into the ground. Still wanting to garden after the sundown in a month of shortening days, I decided their time had come. I turned on our side door lights, grabbed the pitchfork, and stepped off into our kitchen garden to start prying them up.
We don't have very many plants in the ground—maybe 30–40 in a bed ten feet long. I was wanting to trial them out here in east Texas before I went gung-ho planting. With this small space, I didn’t expect the harvest to take too long or be too difficult.
The only hindrance was finding where a plant’s crown was. It wasn’t the dark that hid them but the long shoots. 'African Runner' was really living up to its name as shoots two feet or longer weaved together to form an amorphous mass of foliage.
A few pries from the fork along the edge, and they slipped right out of the ground with a gentle tug. I was surprised to see the peanuts holding onto the plant so well from the little pedicles. Having just dug sweet potatoes a few weeks back, I figured they’d be breaking off left and right to escape the harvest and remain in their underground sanctuary.
After digging, I laid them upside down to let the plants wilt a bit and called it a night. A rain the next day washed most of the soil off and made removing the chthonic fruit from the plant a much cleaner job. Karen even helped a bit, and by the end of sorting through the legumes, we had over a gallon bucket’s worth. Plenty for next year, Pad Thai, roasting and salting, and maybe even some peanut brittle if I’m adventurous.
Overall, I was quite pleased with their performance. They made a spectacular groundcover during our fierce summer; therefore, I’m considering integrating them with summer crops like sunflowers and corn. Get the taller plant growing and then come behind with peanuts. Their nitrogen fixing ability is a plus as I explore using more functional cover crops here.