By Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD
The current pandemic has increased people’s interest in many hobbies that they may not have previously had the time to pursue. The home garden has become a hugely popular way to help pass the time, while also allowing people to grow food they can actually enjoy eating. This isn’t the first time home gardens have gained popularity – they were actually encouraged by the government during both World Wars and were called “Victory Gardens.” Tomatoes, peppers, various leafy greens, and peas are some of the common plants that may be found in your home garden today, but have you ever considered growing peanuts at home? To get the scoop on what it’s like to grow peanuts in a home garden, I reached out to my colleague, Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, LD, CDCES, FAND who is a registered dietitian nutritionist, diabetes expert, and an avid gardener in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. By the way, the time for peanut planting is NOW!
SCC: How long have you been a home gardener? Can you tell me about your garden and your experience as a gardener? Any encouragement for someone who may be new to growing a home garden?
TS: Before moving to South Carolina, we lived in Chicago and tried growing vegetables in the short gardening season. When we moved to South Carolina, we found out that you can plant twice each year which was exciting news - more opportunity to grow produce. My husband and I have attempted gardening here in South Carolina for the past four years. We rented a plot in our community garden and built a couple of raised garden beds measuring approximately four feet by 12 feet. There is a water hookup that we have set on a timer which makes it nice not to have to go to the garden daily to water.
SCC: What made you want to grow peanuts?
TS: It was an a-ha moment after living here two years. I knew peanuts grew in Georgia which is our neighboring state. I thought, why not try and see if our soil and planting zone will grow peanuts. Personally, and professionally, I love eating peanuts, because they contribute protein and healthy fats for my plant-based eating plan and the shell provides mindfulness for the quantity I am eating.
SCC: When did you first grow peanuts?
TS: Two years ago we started with half of a small raised bed. Last year we planted a full raised bed of peanuts and this year we plan on planting two full raised beds with peanuts.
SCC: Can you share anything that surprised you about growing peanuts?
TS: I feel that we take for granted how our food is grown. We loved learning the process for growing peanuts which is fairly simple. Purchase the peanuts to plant— I order them from Burpee, in-shell raw; take the peanuts out of their shell and place them into the soil; water; and leave them growing (they grow underground) for about 3 months. I developed a process for farm to table. After picking the peanuts, I clean the dirt off them and lay them out on baking sheets for roasting. Full transparency, it is a process to clean off the dirt on the peanuts.
SCC: How many peanuts did you get in your harvest?
TS: Approximately 5 pounds.
SCC: What did you do with the peanuts you grew?
TS: After roasting them, I ate them all! Truth be told, I allow my husband a taste of the roasted nuts but, I am with no doubt, a nut lover so I portioned them out and ate them. The taste of home grown, roasted peanuts was amazing.
More About Toby:
Toby Smithson dynamically combines her knowledge as a certified diabetes care and education specialist and registered dietitian nutritionist with her life experiences successfully managing type 1 diabetes for more than five decades. She is a speaker, vlogger, writer, coach and consultant dietitian. Toby is a columnist and advisor for Diabetic Living Magazine, a regular blogger for U.S. News & World Report, and is a monthly contributor to Type2diabetes.com, writing on nutrition and lifestyle issues related to diabetes. She is the principal author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies. Follow Toby on her YouTube channel http://bit.ly/DiabetesEveryDay vlogging credible information about diabetes management on this frequently used social media venue.