Alright, well I don’t know about you but I try to stay frugal with my gardening while keeping things interesting for myself. So when I borrowed a book from the library over the summer and found instructions for growing a peanut plant from regular peanuts bought at the grocery store, you can imagine how happy I was. Actually, I thought the idea was hilarious (and still do) I mean who actually grows PEANUTS?!!
The answer is: ME!! I do!! Ha ha! I bought a big bag of fresh peanuts from the grocery store a few months ago and planted one peanut each in three separate containers just in case they didn’t all germinate. Three weeks later, the first one pushed its way through the soil.
My first thought was, “holy crap, it actually grew!!” My second thought was, “this looks like one of those monsters from Tremors.” Then I ran off to find Nick and show him my peanut seedling to prove to him that it actually worked, since I don’t think he really believed me when I first told him about my project.
It has been growing quickly since it sprouted. As you probably know, the peanut is not really a nut, it’s actually a legume. If you want to sound smart at parties, you can explain this fact to every person you meet like one of George’s girlfriends did in that episode of Seinfeld (anybody else see that one?).
It’s going to grow differently from your usual plants, assuming that you usually grow vegetables or fruits. The peanut plant first sprouts from the soil, growing leaves and so forth like a normal plant. Then it does something odd. It grows a special stem that drops down to bury itself in the dirt, where the peanuts will grow underground until ready for harvest. I like to think of it a fruit plant crossed with a potato plant.
My own peanut plant is not ready to harvest yet, but you can see in the photo above that it’s getting big (over 12 inches tall!). It needs to be transplanted into a larger pot, where it will hopefully start growing some peanuts for me to snack on.
By now you’re probably thinking, “Devon, I don’t care about your peanut plant. Just tell me how to grow my own.” Well okay, I can do that. It’s actually easy and cheap to do. All you really need is time and patience, plus these other things.
- RAW, fresh peanuts. The roasted kind will not work
- Container or flower-pot with good drainage
- Soil (sandy is best)
- Sunny windowsill or other spot
- Water (of course)
Fill your containers with soil. It is best to use soil that is sandy; it will make life easier for your peanut plant. Soil that is too dense will make it difficult for the plant to bury itself back into the ground when the time comes.
Remove the peanut from the shell and bury it a couple of inches deep in the container. I’ve read elsewhere that you can leave it in the shell, so you can try that if you want but I prefer not to. You may want to plant a few peanuts at a time in case some of them don’t germinate.
Set the containers in a warm, sunny spot and water regularly. Depending on the viability of the peanuts and on your climate, they could start sprouting anywhere between 8 days to 5 weeks. The instructions I followed suggested covering the container with plastic to seal in moisture, but I found that just encouraged the growth of mould.
There’s not much else to do at this point but continue watering. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, you might try planting them out there. Once the special stem grows into the soil, wait up to three months for the new peanuts to form. Dig them up the same way you might dig up potatoes and eat them! Or, plant them again to grow more!
I spoke to my father the other day about this project and I found out that he used to grow peanuts before he met me. In his experience, the amount of peanuts harvested weren’t worth the amount of effort put into them, so that’s something to keep in mind. However, this is a great project to work on if you’re looking for something fun and different to grow. I bet kids would love to try it too.
That’s all for today. Thanks for stopping by!
Last week I decided that it’s time to learn the art of plant propagation. I want my plants to survive the winter, but I don’t have room in the apartment to bring them all inside. The most cost-effective solution is to separate pieces of them that will fit into smaller flower pots. That way, they can grow on the windowsill or shelving indoors.
There are several methods of reproducing plants, or shall I say propagating them. One of the easiest ways to do so is by the method of division. All this really means is that the main plant will be divided into separate pieces. Each piece to be removed should have a main stem and a good amount of roots attached.
Some experts recommend removing the entire plant and surrounding soil from the container when performing division. I’m dealing with a huge plastic bucket of dirt on a balcony, and I would rather not drop clumps of dirt onto somebody’s car or somebody’s head nine stories below me. Therefore, I shall try a shortcut and just dig my hands into the dirt and make sure the plant I’m separating stays attached to its roots. The other plants are going to die soon anyway, so I don’t really care if I damage them.
The basil looks like it will be easy to divide, so I pull that out first.This basil plant was growing next to a larger one. There was a bit of resistance while removing it, but as you can see, most of its roots remained attached to the stem. Now I’m going to set it aside while I work on the thyme.
The thyme plant consists stems that are very close together. In the photo below, there is a stem that seems to be more separate from the others, so I pull that aside with my thumb and prepare to separate it the same way that I did with the basil. It is more difficult to separate since the roots were more closely entwined. I need to really dig in deep with my hands to pull the piece away from the parent plant.
The final step is to take a pot of dirt, set the newly divided plants into it and cover the roots with a few more inches of soil. The divided plants should then take root in the new pot and grow normally.
It has been 5 days since dividing the basil and thyme plants and they seem to have adapted well to their new home. It’s been warm all week so they’re still outside, but when I go away this weekend for Thanksgiving, this pot of herbs will be brought inside to stay until springtime.
Not all plants can be so easily propagated. Sometimes division is not possible. I have a rosemary plant that cannot be divided in this way. I will have to make some plant cuttings. The peppermint plant also posed some problems, so we’ll talk about that too.
There is much to discuss next week. I’ll see you again on Tuesday!
I grew yellow oyster mushrooms a few weeks ago, just for fun. Not very many have grown yet, which disappoints me. I was hoping that more would grow so that I could look at how weird they are. Apparently it’s normal for the first flush to be small, so perhaps the next flush will be more to my satisfaction.
At least they tasted good. They were stir-fried with butter, marjoram and oregano, in case you’re wondering.
I grew mine from a grow-kit that I bought, which is an easy way for beginners such as myself to get started with mushroom growing. You can read my article on mushroom grow-kits if you want to learn more about how to do that.
If you’re serious about growing mushrooms on a long-term basis, then you may want to read the previous blog entry on how to build your own mycology lab and harvest your own spores. I’m not really sure how cost-effective that is, so you should ask for advice from serious mushroom growers if you are so inclined.
Anyway, I had enough fun growing them that I’ll probably try a different species next time. Maybe enoki.
That’s all for today, thanks for stopping by!
Alocasia is a beautiful plant that can be grown indoors or outdoors. Considering the gathering frost fairies outside my balcony window, I have elected to keep my alocasia plant indoors at all times. Ever since bringing it home this past spring, it has been happy to sit on top of our TV unit near the patio doors. I did not want to disturb it in the summer season. Plus, it’s too pretty to keep outside.
So What Is It?
Sometimes called the elephant ear plant, alocasia consists of at least 78 species, all of which originate from tropical and subtropical environments. Appearances vary depending upon the species. My plant did not come with an identifier tag, so based on comparisons of internet photos I would guess that it is of the alocasia x amazonica species. The leaves, as you can see, are large with a striking contrast of dark and light green.
It is part of the Aroid plant group which is part of the Araceae family. The distinguishing feature of aroid plants is the growth of a spathe and spadix, also called a flower.
See above the spathe and spadix. They are very fragile. Don’t mind my finger in the photo; when this strange flower first bloomed I did not know what it was, poked at it, and off it fell just like that. So don’t do that.
How to care for it?
The alocasia plant prefers warm, sunny locations, though it will also grow in partial shade. It prefers a peaty soil that’s a mix of moss, bark and earth. Like any houseplant, the pot should have good drainage and the plant should be watered regularly. It’s very easy to care for. The leaves are susceptible to fungal infection, so they should be checked every so often to make sure they’re healthy.
Apparently the stems of the plant are edible if boiled. If not prepared properly, it can actually cause the tongue and throat to swell. It is therefore not recommended for consumption, or at least I don’t advocate trying it at home.
Alright, here is the basic rundown of what’s going on around here. I have completed my very first summer crop of vegetables, fruit and herbs. I conducted it as an experiment and just sort of threw everything together in the hopes that it would work, and work very well it did. In fact, it worked so well that it is going to happen again next summer except even better, but not without a little research and planning, which is what I’ll be sharing with you amongst other things. All topics will be based upon whatever I happen to be doing at the moment, which is going to be a lot. There is much to learn not only about growing vegetables but also learning to care for indoor plants to keep the gardening itch satisfied all winter. I really can’t sit here and just talk about what to do next spring, so there will be occasional posts about indoor projects. For an idea of what I’ve done so far, see the photos below.
Yep, so there are my bell pepper plants, basil, rosemary, parsley and thyme and upside down tomato plant, which lots of people ask me about, therefore I shall dedicate a post to the upside down plant at some point.
Here’s where I am in my gardening experiment. The tomato plant has stopped producing tomatoes, not like they produced many to begin with (a grand total of 3), which is due to a mistake that I must have made, but I’ll figure that out later.
The basil plants grew extremely well in the summer but now, they don’t seem to be growing new leaves. In fact, they are flowering, which my gardening friend told me is not good for the flavouring of the leaves. In case you are wondering, they are growing in a humongous plastic storage container with a build-in water reservoir (yep, DIY project). Directions for how to make one of your own will appear in a later blog entry.
The thyme, parsley and rosemary are still growing well in their wooden trough. The strawberries never grew, so clearly I screwed those up somehow. The cilantro is also long-dead, and I cut down the pepper plants after the two plants produced only three puny orange peppers.
In total, there were two failures (strawberries, cilantro), two partial successes (peppers, tomatoes) and four successes (thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary).
At this point I have two main goals. The first is to figure out what to do with the kitchen herbs before the frost arrives and kills them off. The second is to figure out what I did wrong with the failures and partial successes so that next year they will grow abundant fruit and hopefully not die. Oh right I also need to figure out how to properly store the soil before it snows. So really, I have three main goals.
Since autumn is here and the outside temperatures are dropping, the top priority is to deal with the kitchen herbs. After much contemplation, it seems that the most sensible course of action is to learn plant propagation in order to continue growing the herbs indoors. I’ll also need to learn preservation techniques so that the large quantify of herbs (there is a TON of thyme!) will not go to waste. I shall obviously share photos and step-by-step instructions on how to do so, otherwise why would you want to keep reading. Sound good? That sounds like a plan to me!
That’s all for today, folks. Next blog entry: plant division and cuttings. Stay tuned!!