PEANUTS: THE OTHER PROTEIN GOOBER




 
I know my body needs protein to function well, especially my thinker!  We learned in ninth grade health class that proteins  play a huge role in our body structure.   Our muscles,  internal organs,  red blood cells, and the brain are all composed of proteins.  So let's do like all good Americans. Hot up that frying pan and fire up the grill! It is time to flip some burgers and fry some bacon, right?   Wrong! Well, if you are my husband that would be right, but if you are me, it is wrong, for the most part anyway.  I guess I would be considered a light carnivore.  I do eat meat, but on a very small scale.  As in almost zero scale.  So I look for other ways to get my proteins on.  A balance of lean protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates, along with a constant supply of water is a great recipe to a healthy brain.  I am not a fan of straight from the tap water, so I fancy mine up a bit. Check that out here.
One way I gain proteins regularly is through a very healthy, tasty, and nutritious snack.  The peanut. Yep, what my momma called "goobers". Why did they call peanuts goobers in the olden days? I have no clue.  I guess that is a different topic altogether though.                                                                        
I keep peanuts in my pantry year around. I never knew for sure if they were grown organically until  I added the peanut plant to my own garden two years ago. I first planted four small transplants. I picked them up at my local garden supply and plopped them into some non-dedicated garden space.  Honestly, I planted them by my mailbox among the zinnias.  I know, that was probably a good lawn landscaping faux paus, but a micro farming gal gotta do what a micro farming gal gotta do to put healthy munchies on in the pantry.  The mailbox spot was the only space I could give up for them, so it just had to be that way.   Much to my surprise, the peanut plant looked beautiful planted with the flowers! I was delighted as they grew thick and put on the prettiest little yellow blossoms.  And they not only were beautiful, they produced! 
This past growing season I wanted to actually dedicate some growing space for the peanut plant and planned to plant seeds.  Sadly,  I was too late in ordering the actual organic nut to plant so I had to once again use organic Spanish peanut transplants.  Not what I wanted since the Spanish peanut is the smallest of all peanuts, but  I planted ten plants because I was not going to be peanutless in my pantry come fall.  
Hubs and I just harvested our Spanish peanut crop yesterday, and look, they thrived!  

Yeah, they are a bit smaller than I hoped for, but they will do until I grow the Virginia variety.
I will let them lay here in the sun for a few days, covering them at night from the dew. Then I will pick them from the plants, compost the greens, and jar up the pods! Instant protein right there, folks! 

I am pretty darn sure there is not near enough to make peanut butter, but I will find plenty of uses. I think I will mostly just keep them in their cute little pods, and roast in the oven.  Fresh organic peanuts and popcorn sound like an awesome snack for football season.  Yay! 
 
A few fun facts about Mr. Peanut:
  • Peanuts are not a nut at all.  They are from the legume family.  That means they are a bean. Maybe that is why some folks boil them. 
  • Boiled Peanuts is a Southern treat. Apparently they don't know what boiled peanuts are in the northern states too much.  But hey, they have their Chestnut, so I guess we can call it even. 
  • The peanut pod grows under the soil from a stem that shoots off the plant called pegs. They are called pegs because they peg themselves into the soil. That's why a layer of soft mulch around each plant makes sense so the pegs can push themselves downward. 
  • There are five peanut varieties. Spanish (pictured here), Runner (a good roasting peanut), Virginia (known for its larger size shell and nut, and the one I hope to plant next year), Valencia (known for its better flavor, thus being what most use for peanut butter), and Tennessee Reds and Whites (similar to the valencia but the plants have browner stems, and the pods are more irregular.)
  • Peanut hulls make great mulch. They appear to be a compost carbon, but actually they are a compost nitrogen as they are made up of 3.6% nitrogen. I've noticed they decompose slowly which can actually be a good thing as they keep compost from compacting too tightly. 

Although peanuts, if planted shallow enough, can be harvested even in the north eastern states, if you live in the south (zone 7-9) you really should consider growing peanuts.  They are pretty much a no never mind crop since they take very little upkeep.  You can see from the pictures how beautiful the plants are.  And harvesting them is so much fun and scrumptious!  So, if you have considered planting peanuts in your garden (or by your mailbox) by all means DO IT! I promise you won't regret it! But then again, do we ever regret planting anything? Nope! Well, maybe bamboo... you gotta really be careful with that stuff! 

Isn't this pic awesome? I just loved how the sun was beaming through, so had to share it. 

Flip Dirt Y'all!, 
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