Are peanuts a vegetable?

How Peanuts Grow

Many people are surprised to learn that peanuts do not grow on trees like pecans or walnuts. Peanuts are legumes, not nuts. The peanut plant is unusual because it flowers above ground but the peanut grows below ground. Planted in the early spring, the peanut grows best in calcium rich sandy soil. For a good crop, 120 to 140 frost free days are required. Farmers harvest the peanuts in the fall. The peanuts are pulled from the ground by special machinery and turned over to dry in the fields for several days. The combine machines then separate the peanuts from the vines and blow the tender moist peanuts into special hoppers. They are dumped into a drying wagon and cured by forcing warm air through the wagons. Afterwards, the peanuts are taken to buying stations where they are inspected and graded for sale.A&B Milling Company uses in its products only the highest grade of Virginia style peanuts, frequently referred to as “the peanut of gourmets.” This variety is known for its lower fat content, large meaty size, and excellent flavor and texture.

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Peanuts grow underground and 9 other fun food facts

Photo credit: icrisat.images on / CC BY-NC

When you sit down to a meal or have a snack, do you ever wonder where the fruits and vegetables you’re eating come from? Do they grow on a tree, on a vine or in the soil deep underground? You’ll be surprised to learn how some of your favourite fruits and veggies are grown.


A globe artichoke after it’s bloomed. (Photo credit: RachidH on / CC BY-NC)

“But wait,” you’re thinking. “That’s a flower, not an artichoke.” Actually, it’s both! This type of artichoke is a variety of thistle that we use as food. We eat it before it blooms into the purple flower — once the purple flowers come out, it doesn’t taste good anymore. Artichokes are grown in warm climates all over the world, but particularly in Europe, South America and the United States.


Cacao plant and pods. (Photo credit: Christine4nier on / CC BY-NC)

They might not look like much now, but these pods hold cacao seeds (also called cocoa beans) that are the basis of making the delicious chocolate that’s part of your favourite cakes, puddings and candy bars. Cacao trees grow in countries right around the equator such as Ghana and Nigeria in Africa and Brazil and Peru in South America.


Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC

Did you know that peanuts grow underground? That’s probably why they’re also known as a groundnut. The part of the peanut that we eat is the edible seed of the plant. Although we tend to call a peanut a “nut,” they’re actually a legume and part of the pea and bean family. Peanuts are grown around the world in countries where there’s light, sandy soil and the weather is warm throughout the year — places such as India, Nigeria and the southern United States.


A pepper vine. (Photo credit: Drriss & Marrionn on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA)

The pepper you sprinkle on your food starts out life on a tall vine as a little fruit called a drupe. The fruit is harvested and dried and becomes a peppercorn. You get black pepper from the green, unripe drupes. For white pepper, they remove the skin of a fully ripe drupe. Black pepper is native to south India but it is also grown in other tropical countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil.

Brussels sprouts

Photo credit: @jozjozjoz on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

You might think that because Brussels sprouts look like mini cabbages that they would grow on the ground, but they actually grow in a spiral around a tall, thick stalk. They can be picked individually throughout the harvest season or the whole stalk can be cut down at once. Brussels sprouts require cool weather and moist soil and are grown in farms and vegetable gardens all over the United States and Europe.


A pineapple field. (Photo credit: leGuik on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA)

The pineapple fruit grows in a very unique way. The pineapple plant is short, has stiff, waxy leaves and only produces one fruit. To make its fruit, it produces dozens of fruit-producing flowers that come together to form one single fruit that we call a pineapple. In the wild, pineapples are pollinated by hummingbirds or bats. Pineapples are grown in the sandy soil of tropical countries such as Costa Rica, Thailand, Ghana and the Philippines.


Vanilla pods in Madagascar. (Photo credit: David Darricau on / CC BY-NC-SA)

Mmmm, vanilla! It’s the flavour of cookies, ice cream, cake icing and so much more. Vanilla comes from the fruit — a seed capsule — of the vanilla orchid flower. When it ripens, the seed capsule yellows and opens, releasing its distinctive vanilla smell. Vanilla grown today is pollinated by hand. Vanilla grows in just a couple of countries around the world with hot, humid climates — mainly in Madagascar and Indonesia.


A cinnamon farmer harvests cinnamon in a sustainable manner in the forest near Lubuk Beringin village, Indonesia. (Photo credit: CIFOR on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND)

The cinnamon spice that makes gingerbread so tasty comes from the inner bark of the wild evergreen cinnamon tree. When the bark is dried, it curls up into rolls called quills. Cinnamon trees can be found in the forests of countries with hot, tropical climates such as Sri Lanka, Brazil and India.


A cashew tree. (Photo credit: barloventomagico on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND)

What you think of as a cashew “nut” is actually the seed of the cashew fruit. It grows at the end of a pear-shaped cashew apple that oranges as it ripens. The apple can be eaten and is very sweet. You won’t find cashews sold in their shell because the shell has an oil that can cause skin rashes similar to that of poison ivy. Cashew trees grow in the hot lowland areas of tropical countries such as Brazil, India and Vietnam.

Sesame seeds

The sesame flower on the left. (Photo credit: scott.zona on / CC BY-NC) The sesame pod with seeds on the right.

Sesame seeds are everywhere — on bagels, in bread, on sushi, baked into cookies and even made into crunchy snack bars. The seeds grow in a capsule on the sesame flower. When the seeds are ripe, the capsules burst open. Once harvested, some seeds are used also made into sesame oil. Although you can grow sesame plants pretty much anywhere, the ones that produce sesame seeds are grown in warmer countries with well-drained soil such as Tanzania, India and Sudan.

Peanuts are a plant that can be grown in the home garden and produce nuts. Many people imagine that peanuts grow on trees like walnuts or chestnuts, but they way they actually grow is something that they don’t realise or expect.
The peanut is a herbaceous plant that grows about 45cm tall. It is part of the legume or bean family. Peanuts grow best in light, sandy loam soil of which we in Wanganui have plenty of!
The process of the nuts forming starts with the flowers which grow about 2-4cm across. The flower stalk then elongates and bends over until the ovary touches the ground. The stalk then continues to grow, pushing the ovary underground where the peanut develops. The nuts are then harvested by digging up the whole plant and hanging it upside down to dry for two to three weeks.
They are technically not nuts but a type of vegetable forming a legume pod. However, since they are served in a manner similar to true nuts, we refer to them as peanuts.
Rhubarb is a vegetable that will often conjure up childhood memories of rhubarb crumble, Grandma’s garden and such like. It is a hardy and adaptable edible that is easy to grow, so much so that it can grow in an untamed garden for years and still produce good quantities of harvestable stems.
The humble rhubarb has made a massive comeback in popularity over the past few years as many that have ventured into developing home vegetable gardens have looked for “what else” that they can grow and be productive with in a small space in the home garden.
Rhubarb might be a favourite pie plant, but it has interestingly been described as an “uncommon vegetable” that’s used as a fruit in sauces and pies. Either way, it’s easy to grow and super-yummy to eat. Grow it in a sunny to partly shaded spot in the garden or planted in a container – just as long as the container is large enough to accommodate a season’s growth because it will get quite large.
Unlike most vegetables, rhubarb is a perennial so it can be left in the ground and will return a crop for many, many years. Once it’s ready to harvest, from mid to late summer, you’ll be ready to bake a few rhubarb pies or perhaps freeze some fresh for later use in winter. In colder areas rhubarb will die down completely during the winter months, however in a warm spot, particularly in more frost-free gardens in Gonville and Castlecliff, plants will sometimes not die down at all during a warm winter.
A question we have often fielded in the garden centre is “how do I make the stems turn red?” Stem colour is actually related to the variety and the particular characteristics of the plant, not soil type, fertiliser regime or time of the season. Rhubarb is often grown from seed which adds to the variability of stem colour. However stem colour and sweetness are not related; it is a common misconception is that the green stems are tart and the red stems are sweeter. Greener stemmed varieties do tend to be more vigorous growers, sometimes producing thicker stems than those with redder stems.
There are a two main varieties that are widely grown in New Zealand; “Victoria” and “Glaskins Perpetual”. Victoria and Glaskins are often both described as red stemmed and while both possess some traces of red, Victoria, particularly in New Zealand is more green stemmed.
Generally red stemmed varieties are the favoured choice because of the visual appeal, and a variety released in New Zealand last year fits the bill perfectly. “Moulin Rouge” rhubarb is an old heritage variety, handed down from generation to generation. It has exceptional winter holding and its colour is deep red – exactly what people want in a rhubarb plant. It’s a great cropper, with juicy stalks ready to harvest from early season, and it has a lovely, sweet flavour.
When harvesting stems they must be pulled downwards and twisted removing them from the plant. Never cut stems from the plant as the remaining cut stalk can be a source of disease or rot into the crown of the plant.
Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and must never be consumed. They can be harvested and boiled in water and then used as a naturally derived insect spray.
When a clump has been grown for a number of years it can be lifted and divided in late winter or early spring. Older, less productive parts can be thrown away and the rest replanted.
Rhubarb benefits from an annual feed with a highly nitrogenous fertiliser to promote stem and leaf growth. An excellent organic-based product for rhubarb is Yates Dynamic Lifter for Leafy Vegetables. This will also help improve soil structure as it adds organic matter. Rhubarb also responds well to blood and bone. Deep watering during dry periods is recommended but watch that plants never sit in water as this can cause the crowns to rot.
Have a good week
¦Gareth Carter is general manager of Springvale Garden Centre

Peanut Companion Plants – Learn About Companion Planting With Peanuts

We know peanuts as the central ingredient in the childhood favorite, peanut butter, but do you know how to grow them? Peanutsare ground nuts and scramble low about the earth. Their particular growing requirements mean any plants grown nearby must also like full sun, well-drained soil and deeply fertile sandy loam. This begs the question, what are good companions to peanuts. The answer is quite extensive and may surprise you. Numerous food crops are perfect peanut companion plants.

What to Plant with Peanuts

Peanuts are pleasant plants with pretty little yellow flowers and a spectacular method of nut production. Nuts grow from pegs or stems that insert themselves into the ground and develop into peanuts. Needing as much sun as possible during the day, companion planting with peanuts should not include tall plants, which will shade the ground nuts.

Companions to peanuts must enjoy the same soil and sun conditions but also a high amount of calcium, a nutrient that promotes the formation of healthy plants and ground nuts.


Ideal plants with peanut crops might be other in-ground crops like beetsand carrots. Potatoesare another good in-ground plant with similar growing needs. In-ground crops to avoid are onionsand other members of the Allium family.

Very tall crops, like pole beans and corn, should be avoided, as they will shade the peanut plants and can inhibit nut formation. Food crops such as cabbageand celeryenjoy the same site conditions but are not so tall as to create shade.

Short season or fast producing crops like lettuce, snow peas, spinachand radishare excellent plants that grow well with peanuts. Their production will be finished long before peanut plants flower and begin to peg into the soil.


Many herbs offer unique pest deterrent capabilities as well as increase pollinators during their flowering period. Certain flowers also offer these benefits when planted in proximity to food crops. Marigoldsand nasturtiumsare two classic examples of flowering companions with pest repellent properties and pollinator charm.

Herbs like rosemary, savoryand tansywill draw in pollinating insects and have some ability to attract beneficial insects while sending the bad bugs running. Much of this is thought to be attributed to the potently scented oils in the leaves of the plants, but whatever the reason, they have the same growing requirements as peanuts and will thrive in the same garden bed. Many more herbs are great plants that grow well with peanuts.

Herbs that produce profuse flowers are especially welcome as their colors and scents will bring in important insects that will pollinate the peanut flowers.

Using Groundcover Companion Planting with Peanuts

Any companion plants near peanuts should ideally not cover up the plants and reduce their sun exposure. However, a unique companion combo with strawberriesoffers both beauty and double duty in the same garden space. Strawberry plants with their runners will gradually take over an area. However, in their first year they provide a nice ground cover that will prevent many weeds and help conserve soil moisture by preventing evaporation.

Both peanuts and strawberries have the same soil and site requirements. The berries grow lower than the 12-inch (30 cm.) peanut plants and will not suffocate them. Care should be taken to prevent berry runners from rooting within 3 inches (8 cm.) of the peanut plant as this could interrupt the pegging process.

By Beverly Mettot

Issue #81 • May/June, 2003

Companion planting is nothing new, and yet in recent years it has made an extraordinary comeback, not only in fooling those pesky pests who thrive on fruits and vegetables in the vast majority of home gardens, but also in providing healthier, tastier foods.

The welter of odors, colors, and textures of heavily interplanted plant companions can confuse, deter, and even stop pests altogether. But plant companion methods can also confuse the home gardener in deciding which plants go where, with which other plants, and for what reason. Equally confusing are the ideal planting crops: why certain plants belong while others don’t, which plants fool even the most persistent of pests, and which ones are better left out of the garden.

There are virtually hundreds of examples of plant companions recorded in garden lore, and modern research substantiates their effectiveness. For instance strawberries, cabbage, and tomatoes can be planted in and around sage to benefit one another in the garden. But plant cucumbers with that same sage and you’ll have a disaster on your hands.

While everyone loves the idea of seed turning to vegetable, things can (and do) go wrong during the growing season, namely pests. As Jack Kramer pointed out in The Natural Way To Pest-Free Gardening, “Insects are a highly trained, well-ordered society. So well ordered they can quickly destroy valuable plants in the garden.”

That’s where companion planting comes in. By intermixing certain aromatic herbs, or pungent French marigolds, or any number of beneficial plants and flowers, the home gardener finds a natural deterrent which helps repel insects and better protects his crop.

The need for companion plants

I began experimenting with this method four years ago when I encountered my first tomato hornworm, and I’ll be the first to attest that the combination of sweet basil and French marigolds really do keep these pesky little (or not so little) caterpillars at bay.

Much of today’s companion planting is based on the combination of both fact and folklore, but scientists have enough evidence to convince them of the following:

  • Plants with strong odors do confuse, deter, and oftentimes stop certain pests.
  • Certain plants hide other certain plants we don’t want detected.
  • Certain plants, and especially herbs, are considered nursery plants for the good insects providing shelter, nectar, pollen, and even dark, cool moist spots for lacewings, lady beetles, parasitic flies, and wasps.
  • Certain plants serve as a “trap” crop, which pushes insects away from other essential plants (rue’s bad odor and disagreeable taste will keep even the most persistent of pests away).
  • Certain plants create habitats which attract more beneficial insects (such as lady beetles, praying mantis, and ambush bugs).

Ideal planting crops are plants whose odors ward off unwanted insects. French marigolds are the best example. Not only does its strong odor literally confuse pests looking for their favorite plants, but their roots give off a substance which repels nematodes. The more you have planted in the garden, the better its effectiveness.

Among the most popular of repellent plants are garlic and chives because of their powerful ability to repel aphids and beetles. Similarly, savory, chamomile, and thyme are ideal planting crops. These three herbs will attract more beneficial insects than any bright, pretty flower will. So when you’re planning your summer garden, include plenty of each.

Virtually all herbs benefit the garden in some way, whether to attract good insects, enhance the flavor of nearby plants, or to confuse those insects we simply don’t want around.

Certain flowers also attract beneficial insects: asters, zinnia, and sunflowers all work together to keep the good company coming to our yards. When I put in our sidewalk, I wanted plenty of flowers to line it. Many of the plants I included led me to my first encounters with lacewings and ambush bugs. Thank goodness I looked them up before plucking them off.

The don’ts

Sometimes, the toxins of one plant totally destroy the health or growth of certain other plants. A Black Walnut tree, planted within 60 feet of your garden, can inhibit the growth and/or development of vegetables, azaleas, rhododendrons, blackberries, lilacs, peonies, and apple trees. It gives off a toxin called juglone which can do some serious damage to other plants. This chemical reaction is known as allelopathy. Sunflowers also have allelopathic properties.

If you see a plant failing, but can’t see any visible reason why, it might be its neighbor. (See “The don’ts of companion planting.”)

The Interplanting of Vegetables
The following table should act as a guide to help you eliminate certain problems in your garden.
Anise Coriander Aids the growth and flavor of Anise.
Asparagus Parsley or basil Controls Aspargus beetles.
Basil, Sweet throughout garden Enhances the flavor and growth of everything around it.
Carrots Sage Deters carrot (rust) flies.
Chamomile throughout garden Brings overall health to the garden. Attracts good insects.
Chervil Radishes One plant requires heavy nutrients while the other requires very little.
Chives Carrots, grapes, roses, and tomatoes Curb Japanese Beetles, and black spot.
Corn Snap beans or soybeans Enhances growth of corn.
Cosmos throughout garden Bad insects won’t come near it, but it will attract pollinating wasps.
French Marigolds throughout garden Strong odor confuses pests looking for their favorite plant.
Garlic throughout garden Repels aphids and beetles.
Mustard Beans One plant requires heavy nutrients while the other requires very little.
Mints Cabbage, strawberries Deters aphids and other aphid pests, as well as ants who invade strawberries.
Nasturtiums throughout garden Repels aphids and white flies.
Onions Carrots The two combined help to control rust flies and some nematodes.
Peanuts Corn Increases yields of both crops.
Peas Lettuce, spinach, and Chinese cabbage Benefit from the shade and wind protection peas provide.
Potatoes Horseradish and/or tansy Plant plenty for maximum benefits in attempt to ward off Colorado Potato Beetles.
Radishes Squash, cucumbers, and/or Carrots Great deterrent against Cucumber Beetles and Rust flies. Also eliminates diseases spread by these plants.
Rue throughout garden Disagreeable taste and bad odor sends even persistent pests on their way.
Sage Strawberries, Cabbage, and/or Tomatoes Deters unwanted pests and benefits each other in garden.
Savory throughout garden Ideal planting crop. Attracts good insects.
Spinach Beans or tomatoes Benefits from the shade both plants provide.
Strawberries Borage or sage Enhances flavor of fruit and strengthens plant’s resistance to insects and diseases.
Tansy Cabbage and/or potatoes Deters Cutworms, Cabbage Worms, and Colorado Potato Beetles.
Thyme Tomatoes and/or cabbage All three together control Flea Beetles, Cabbage Maggot, White Cabbage Butterflies, Colorado Potato Beetles, and imported Cabbage Worms.

The Don’ts Of Companion Planting

Don’t plant French marigolds with beans.

Don’t plant tansy with collards.

Don’t plant cucumbers with sage.

Don’t plant chrysanthemums with lettuce.

Don’t plant wormwood with peas or beans (wormwood in other areas of the garden will deter slugs.)

Don’t plant peppers with tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, or where peppers were planted in the last three years.

Don’t plant tomatoes with fennel or potatoes.

Don’t plant families that are closely related, and attract the same pests.

Don’t plant allelopathic plants too close to your garden.

About Peanuts

Surprising though it may be, the peanut is a vegetable and not a nut. It doesn’t grow on trees. It isn’t harvested above ground. Instead, peanut pegs (where the nuts form on the peanut plant) develop on the base of spent flowers and bury themselves in the ground. To harvest the peanuts, you dig up the plants. A member of the legume family, gardeners can reap this energy-packed vegetable as far north as Ontario, Canada.

The Origins of Peanuts

Because peanut-shaped pottery jars were uncovered in Peruvian Inca tombs, it’s believed that peanuts originated in Brazil or Peru as early as 950 B.C. Similar artifacts found in Bolivia and Argentina indicate that peanuts were treasured there, too.

When the Spanish Conquistadors traveled to South America in search of gold, they returned to their native land bearing peanuts as their prize, and the legume became one of Spain’s prime crops.

The Spaniards traded peanuts to Africans for elephant tusks and spices. The Africans called this strange-looking food “goobers” and believed that the peanut plant possessed a soul.

Peanuts in North America

Peanuts, also known as earth nuts, earth almonds, groundnuts, pendars, monkey nuts, or manilla nuts, first came to North America during the 18th century. Slave traders bought them from Africans as the cheapest, easiest, on-board food for slaves.

Until the late 1800s, peanuts were grown in this country principally for fattening farm animals. Since that time, the peanut has grown both in popularity and profitability. Through extensive research, Dr. George Washington Carver found peanuts to be an abundant source of fats, proteins and other nutrients. His pioneering creativity led to the development of more than 300 uses for the peanut. These include axle grease, linoleum, wood stains, shaving cream, paper, ink, adhesives, plastics, fertilizer and wallboard. All parts of the peanut — the shell, nutmeat and plant — have diversified uses, and they may each be incorporated in a variety of food products, including chile sauce, cheese, mayonnaise, milk and candy.

Peanut Butter

One product that most of us keep on hand is peanut butter. This popular spread was created in the late 1800s by a St. Louis physician, who had been searching for a nutritious, easy-to-digest food for elderly patients.

Around the turn of this century, housewives found a new gadget on the market — a small, money-saving hand device they could use in their own kitchens to make peanut butter. A few years later, owners of small country stores were using this same invention to make their own peanut butter, and selling it from large, wooden tubs.

Today, at least 200,000 tons of peanut butter are consumed yearly in the United States. One pound of peanuts provides the approximate energy value of 1 pound of beef, 1 1/2 pounds of cheddar cheese, 9 pints of milk or 3 dozen medium eggs.

Although commercial peanut production in the United States is concentrated in Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, most people can successfully grow peanuts in their home gardens, throughout the U.S.

Legume of the month: Peanuts

Published: June, 2019

Even though “nut” is in its name, a peanut is actually a legume. Like soybeans, lentils, and other legumes, peanuts are edible seeds that grow in pods. Still, most people think of them as nuts, along with tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. (Unlike other legumes, which grow on vines or shrubs, peanuts grow underground.)

Nutritionally speaking, peanuts and tree nuts are fairly similar: they’re all rich in healthy unsaturated fats and fiber, as well as several vitamins and minerals. Numerous studies suggest that people who eat peanuts or tree nuts frequently have lower rates of heart disease compared with people who rarely eat them. One added bonus for peanuts: they’re not as pricey as tree nuts, making them a more affordable addition to your daily menu.

If you like peanut butter, look for a brand that contains 100% peanuts with no added sugar or salt. Spread it on whole-grain bread, topped with thinly sliced apple or banana instead of jelly or jam. You can also use peanut butter to make peanut sauce to drizzle on steamed broccoli or other vegetables. Try adding chopped, roasted peanuts to a stir-fry, or just enjoy a small handful of unsalted peanuts as a snack.

Image: © anna1311/Getty Images

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