Children will love growing the unconventional peanut, or groundnut. Peanut plants are attractive, quirky and – best of all – easy to raise.
Even if they didn’t do anything offbeat, peanut plants would still be worth cultivating for their delicate little yellow flowers and penny-shaped paired leaves which close, as if in prayer, every bedtime.
But it’s the plant’s original take on what to do after blooming that makes it so much fun. Once fertilised, the flowers arch down and push themselves into the soil, where they develop into the familiar tubers we know as monkey-nuts.
For best effect, grow them in a transparent container with stones in the bottom for drainage (an old goldfish bowl would be ideal) so the family can watch the monkey-nuts as they form underground.
So, what’s the procedure?
You’ll need :
- raw peanuts to sow – sorry, roasted, salted peanuts won’t do! The best are monkey-nuts still in their shells, easily obtainable from pet shops or online suppliers
- Shell the nuts, and soak them overnight before planting two or three to a pot
- Find a warm spot to encourage germination, and wait for the nuts to sprout
- When the seedlings are 3” high, transplant into individual containers
- Rotate the pots regularly to keep the plant straight
- Keep the soil moist.
Blooms should appear in around eight weeks, with – hopefully – your first groundnut crop following some five months later.