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Peanut plant - (Not) Just Peanuts®

Erdnusspflanzen (Not) Just Peanuts Justblack LuberaPeanut plants: when you think of them you first think of the southern U.S. states, peanut butter, peanut oil, maybe Indian dishes or long hours at the bar, but certainly not your own garden. With the (Not) Just Peanuts® ...

Peanut plant (Not) Just Peanuts® JustBehappy®

Arachis hypogaea – the peanut plant with the signal colour

From £5.40 *

Peanut plant (Not) Just Peanuts® Justblack®

Arachis hypogaea – the peanut plant with dark red to black nuts

From £5.40 *

Peanut plant (Not) Just Peanuts® Justmore®

Arachis hypogaea – the peanut plant with the giant pods

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Peanut plant (Not) Just Peanuts® Justpink®

Arachis hypogaea – the peanut plant with the highest yield

From £5.40 *

Peanut plant (Not) Just Peanuts® Justwhite®

Arachis hypogaea – the peanut plant with the pure white, little nuts

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More useful information about Peanut plant - (Not) Just Peanuts®

...peanut plants from Lubera, however, it is now possible to grow peanuts in your own garden. These varieties, which were specially selected for our climate, with early flowering and fast peanut formation, but above all with tolerance for our cooler and also wetter climate, bring a rich and trouble-free harvest when planted out in the garden or in a pot.

Peanut plants – the best varieties for our climate

Peanut plants for the north is something that seems at first sight to be a contradiction, but this contradiction is resolved when one thinks of the origin of these plants, which today are mostly cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas (in the southern states of the United States, India and China): peanut plants come from the Andes, a region with very diverse climates, and have adapted there to the most varied weather conditions.

It was precisely this adaptation management of native South American varieties that interested us when we selected a large number of local breeds from the Andes specifically for short cultivation periods and tolerance to cool and wet weather. We then tested them in Central England and Switzerland in open fields and in pots in comparison to American standard varieties. With the best and most robust selections, we put together our current (Not) Just Peanuts® peanut plant assortment. In our trials, we concentrated on bushy, upright growing varieties that form the peanuts close to the plant centre; the so-called runner varieties, which form peanuts on flat shoots further away from the middle of the plant, ripen much later and are also dependent on rather dry weather for their plant health.

The diversity of peanuts was and is surprising for us; there are not only the well-known varieties with pink seed coats (such as Justpink®), there are also varieties with white (Justwhite®), black (Justblack®) and signal-like striped colours (JustBehappy®). We are used to the fact that peanuts usually have two nuts in them – but our largest Lubera® variety Justmore® has an average of 3.5 peanuts, so there are many pods with four nuts.

Peanut Plant Not Just PeanutsAs already mentioned, all varieties are adapted to our climate. They are planted out in May as advanced young plants, they ripen in September or early October and they can also withstand somewhat lower spring temperatures and far more rain than standard American varieties. Our trials have shown that the varieties of peanut plants such as Justmore® and Justblack®, both with a dark red to black skin/seed coat colour, can withstand much more moisture and cold than the other varieties. Their foliage can withstand the autumn months much better – and accordingly, the nuts can easily ripen a little longer. In cooler or wetter regions, these two varieties are therefore clearly preferable or should be given greater consideration in a cultivation mix.

We deliver all varieties of peanut plants from the beginning of May in a large 1.3 L pot; this size ensures that the peanut plants can start flowering and fruiting as soon as possible after planting out in the open or in a pot.

(Not) Just Peanuts® – where the slogan of our peanut plant assortment comes from

Jimmy Carter – the elderly and politically interested among us may still remember – contested his election campaign with the slogan: Not Just Peanuts. This peanut farmer became probably the most honest president of the world power in the last 100 years. The slogan comes to us now, a few decades later, as if it were right on cue. Although we don't want to run for president (the garden god protects us all from that...), with our new peanut series we also offer “not just peanuts”, not only unimportant small peanuts but a new, exciting and easy to grow crop plant for our climate!

Another aspect underlines the importance and topicality of the peanut plant: it is a typical winner of climate change. Our climate has become between 1 and 1.5°C warmer, and this really makes a huge difference for plants: some species will have to say goodbye because it has become too warm for them, especially in late spring and midsummer, and some others we will be able to welcome back into nature or even as cultivated plants. The peanut is one of the latter.

Are peanuts really nuts?

Of course, peanuts are not real nuts. They belong to the legume family; they are annual (in our climate) and can be compared to beans and their relatives in terms of biology, growth and fruits. The shell of the peanut (so to speak its nutshell) corresponds to the shell of the bean. The peanuts are the equivalent of the individual bean kernels. Like all legumes, peanuts can in principle bind nitrogen from the air via a symbiosis with the nodule bacteria. The name peanut clearly indicates the relationship to beans and other legumes; this can also be tasted in the distinct flavour of fresh, unroasted peanuts. The dried and even roasted peanuts then taste much sweeter and nuttier, and also become crunchier, which probably led to the association with nuts. The shell, which is firm and crunchy when dried, also contributes to the association with nuts.

The origin and biology of the peanut plant

As already mentioned, the peanut plant (Arachis hypogaea) originates from the Andes, even though the largest cultivation areas today are in the subtropical regions of China and India. However, its original origin has given the species a relatively broad adaptability, which we have taken advantage of when selecting and testing varieties that are suitable for growing in the north. Especially the inclusion of South American local breeds with characteristics tailored to our needs (more tolerance to cold and moisture) was purposeful and successful.

One of the most exciting features of peanut plants is probably the flower and fruit biology. Peanuts are self-fertile and can, therefore, be fertilised by the pollen of their own flowers. Immediately after the fertilisation of the flowers formed close to the shoots, the 3 cm to 20 cm long carpophores (pegs) develop from the base of the pistil, so to speak, behind the flowers. These pegs bend immediately towards the ground and press their tips, i.e. ultimately the fertilised flowers, into the soil. Here, protected from predators, the pods with the peanuts can grow. This process happens relatively quickly, within a few days, and is usually covered by leaves with our varieties, which grow rather bushy and upright. One then usually underestimates the number of flowers that find their way into the ground – and during harvest time is always positively surprised at the many peanuts to be harvested.

The geotropic fruit growth that takes place in the soil is quite astonishing because it greatly limits the plant's geographical distribution possibilities. Obviously, the peanut must have felt very comfortable and safe in its genetic that it could do without further dispersal of its seeds during evolution.

In a milder subtropical or even tropical climate, peanut plants are not annual plants, but they continue to grow uninterruptedly: the peanuts in the soil sprout again shortly after ripening, thus ensuring their survival. Accordingly, it was and is an important criterion of our selection work to exclude varieties that immediately germinate again in a mild autumn in order to create more time for harvesting. Justwhite® still has the tendency to germinate early and fast, so it should be harvested early in mid-September and also planted early. All other varieties remain calm until the above-ground plant organs die.

When should peanuts be planted?

From sowing (in a relatively warm and certainly frost-free environment) to harvesting, the peanut needs about 180 days. Our rather early varieties may take 150-160 days. However, in our climate this is becoming extremely scarce, so that young plants grown from seeds should be preferred in any case. Ideally, the seeds can be sown at about 20°C on a windowsill or in a greenhouse in mid-March, preferably straight into pots with a volume of 0.5 to 1 L, i.e. relatively large. With this procedure, you will have robust and bushy young plants available in May after the frosts, which can be planted out after the frosts. Do not forget to protect the young plants that are planted out with a fleece in case of a late frost. This is usually sufficient to prevent damage.

Planting distance for peanut plants

As already mentioned, we have selected bushy, upright local breeds for our northern peanut assortment. Runner varieties with flat shoots, which also bear fruit far away from the plant centre, have been excluded due to their late and long ripening period. Accordingly, our peanut varieties can also be planted relatively close together, in rows approx. every 30 cm. The spacing between the rows should be about 40-50 cm.  The closer the planting, the faster the peanuts cover the ground and suppress any weeds.

Sow peanuts or buy peanut plants?

It's fun to grow peanut plants yourself – and they bring a lot of joy because the small plants develop very quickly. After only six weeks you will get a bushy, 20 cm high young plant, which is just starting to form the first flowers in the leaf axils. Nevertheless, the use of the young plants from the Lubera shop has its advantages because you can plant exactly those varieties that have been specially selected for the climate north of the Alps. The first harvest from our varieties can be used by our customers for sowing. Peanuts are self-fertile, i.e. the blossoms are fertilised by their own pollen and the seeds therefore largely breed true so that the variety is retained when the peanuts are sown by themselves (similar to open-pollinated tomatoes).

Peanuts that you want to use for further cultivation should be dried gently in a warm, well-ventilated room or at 25-30°C with a dehydrator right after harvesting. Then store the pods in a textile bag, which can be hung up in a loft, for example. Before sowing, open the pods and carefully sow the individual seeds, always with the tip pointing downwards.

The best location for peanuts

Peanuts and peanut plants need heat and light for good plant development. They should be grown in a bright place at approx. 25°C. When planting out, the young plants should be placed in a preferably warm location in full sun. Since peanut plants cannot tolerate wetness, and certainly not stagnant moisture, the soil should be sandy, light and dry; if it is too heavy (and therefore only warms up slowly), a 10 cm layer of compost should be applied to the planting bed and then, with the compost-soil mixture, a dam that is approx. 30 cm high and 30-40 cm wide should be built up, in which the plants can be planted. This not only results in better and faster drying soil but also in faster warming of the planting bed.

Growing peanut plants in pots or balcony boxes

Our (Not) Just Peanuts® peanut varieties are ideal for growing in pots or balcony boxes due to their upright and bushy habit. However, since the flower tips, which display positive geotropism, i.e. they grow down towards the ground, must also find the soil, the plant container must have a certain width. In a pot, a volume of about 5 L (= 20 cm diameter) is possible; however, a 10 L pot would be even better and would certainly result in a larger harvest. In a balcony box, two to three peanut seedlings can be planted. For successful growth in pots, it is most important to ensure good water drainage: pots and boxes should not be placed in a saucer, as this can lead to a too wet substrate. It is also important to make sure that there are enough drainage holes; for a large pot with a volume of 10 L and more, we recommend that a drainage layer with gravel and stones be placed at the bottom in order to ensure that excess water can drain away without problems.

Caring for peanut plants – the most important tips

With the right varieties, growing peanuts in your own garden is no magic trick. In the following we have compiled the most important experiences and tips based on our trials:

  1. Already when growing young plants or even when planting the peanut plants, it can be useful to pinch them again at a height of approx. 5-10 cm in order to create bushier growth. The bushier the growth, the more shoots are produced and the more flowers develop... However, you should always consider how much time you have left for the cultivation: if you plant at the beginning of May, you can choose to pinch earlier; if you plant at the beginning of June, pinching will cause a delay in the harvest, which will be hard to make up for.
  2. When planting peanuts in the garden, they do not require additional watering (apart from watering the seedlings). Peanuts form a long taproot, reaching down to 50 cm into the ground, which ensures the water supply in most gardens, except during extreme dryness. In the worst case, additional watering endangers the healthy development of the pods and peanuts and in the best case leads to luxury consumption – the plant thinks it can stop root development...
  3. At Lubera, we are not fans of mulch: nevertheless, we advise applying a 2-4 cm thick layer of mulch consisting of well-ripened green compost after planting on the bed. As a fertiliser, this not only promotes the rapid development of the young plant (the faster it grows, the earlier it flowers, the more nuts will find their way into the soil), but this also keeps the bed largely weed-free until the flowering period (approx. 4-8 weeks). As soon as the first blossoms appear, the bed can then be lightly hoed again, compost and topsoil mixed in, thus preparing a soft receiving committee for the flowering tips growing downwards...the desired side effect is this: by hoeing, mineralisation is strongly promoted and the plant has additional nutrients available for further flowering and fruit ripening. Usually, the blanket of leaves and shoots also close at this time, so that there is hardly any weed growth afterwards. Of course, this soil preparation should take place before the first fertilised blossoms reach the ground, as we do not want to prevent the peanut plant from burying its head (or its offspring) in the sand...
  4. The choice of variety is very important: especially in slightly cooler regions and in slightly heavier soils, the varieties Justmore® and Justblack® are preferable because they are more robust and can keep their leaves and stems green longer (which also extends the ripening time for the pods and shells).
  5. Choose the driest possible period of weather for harvesting; this also means that the pods come out of the ground drier, the risk of rotting is reduced and the subsequent drying process is quicker.

Harvesting peanuts – when and how are peanuts harvested?

If planted between early May and early June, the peanuts are harvested around mid-September. However, one should pay less attention to the length of the vegetation period than to the condition of the plant. The time for harvesting is when about half to three-fourths of the leaves have turned brown and grey, but the stems are still largely green: at this time the conditions for harvesting are best; the nuts are still calm and do not start to germinate again, and the pods still hang securely on their “umbilical cord” when they are cleared and come to light with the dug up plant. If the harvest takes place at a later time, there is a risk that the nuts, which have been abandoned by the mother plant, so to speak, will either start to rot or germinate or that some of the nuts will remain in the ground during harvesting.

When clearing and harvesting, the entire plant can simply be cut out with a digging fork and then pulled out and shaken out by hand. This moment, the point when the peanut plant with its pods in your hands, is the best part of the whole peanut cultivation. We have always been amazed in recent years at how many nuts hang there; obviously, there are more flowers under the canopy of the leaves and also more developing carpophores (fruiting bodies) than can be seen from above...

How many peanuts can be harvested per peanut plant?

In two out of three trial years Justpink® was the highest yielding variety with up to 100 pods and well over 200 nuts per plant (three plants of each variety were counted). The giant peanut plant Justmore®, on the other hand, develops only about 30-40 pods per plant, but since these produce an average of 3.5 nuts, this results in well over 100 nuts per plant.

Drying peanuts

Immediately after harvesting, the peanuts must be dried so that no mould can spread, which then would produce secondary mycotoxins (toxins produced by a fungus). The pods are thus detached from the rooted plants (simply torn off) and placed flat, in one layer, in boxes, which are loosely stored and dried in a warm but ventilated room. If a dehydrator or similar device is available, the peanuts can also be dried artificially in an airstream of approx. 25°C, which is faster and more reliable.

Caution: under no circumstances should immediate drying be done without, as otherwise, the risk of mould formation becomes too great. Alternatively, peanuts can of course also be immediately freed from the shell, peeled and freshly cooked or roasted.

Roasting peanuts, preserving and seasoning or sweetening them

The roasting process makes peanuts have a longer shelf life – and above all nuttier. The taste changes from a greenish beany flavour to a much crisper, but also sweeter and nuttier taste experience. For roasting, it is best to use the following procedure:

  1. Remove the nuts from the pods.
  2. Freeze the nuts and when defrosted, the coloured seed coats can be removed more easily; alternatively, however, the nuts can also be roasted with the seed coats.
  3. Lay the nuts flat on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  4. Preheat the oven to 150-180°C using top and bottom heat.
  5. Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven.
  6. After 10 minutes take out the baking tray and stir the nuts.
  7. Roasting is finished after another 10 minutes (15 minutes for unpeeled nuts).
  8. If you now want to remove the seed coats, you can shake the nuts in a container and empty them again; the seed coats are now largely loose and can be blown away with a hairdryer.
  9. The still warm nuts can be seasoned with salt, pepper, barbecue spices, but also sweetened with sugar and cinnamon or honey. When still warm and slowly cooling down, the seasonings are best absorbed and thus stick to the nuts.
  10. Store in a dry place.

Sow and pre-cultivate peanuts yourself

To avoid misunderstandings: of course, roasted peanuts are no longer viable and they will not germinate; only dried nuts do. So if you have harvested nuts from our varieties, you are welcome to store some dried specimens still in the shell in a hanging textile bag. Before sowing, open the pods and extract the seeds for this year's crop; the seeds are sown about six weeks before planting out and germinate the fastest at an air temperature between 20-25°C. The seeds should be planted with the tip pointing downwards at a depth of about 1-2 cm. After only six weeks the young plants are ready for further cultivation in a larger pot or in the garden.

Peanuts are healthy – the most important constituents of peanuts

Peanuts are extremely healthy, which is often forgotten due to the many peanut allergies. It can be assumed that about 0.5 to 1% of the population has a noticeable peanut allergy.

For everyone else, however, the following applies all the more: peanuts are not only an exciting garden plant, but the enjoyment of peanut fruits is also very positive from a health point of view. Although the fat content is about 50%, the high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids can even help lower cholesterol levels. And peanuts are nutritious! They have 25% protein, more than eggs, for example. Besides the high content of minerals, the numerous phytosterols are worth mentioning, which are said to have a preventive effect against cancer. Here in peanuts, they are even more present than in olive oil.

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