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Monday, May 25, 2020
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Goober Peas

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Green Goobers


“Peas, peas, peas peas, eatin' goober peas!” 
   We’ve all sung the song. In fact the Kingston Trio in the    1950's made it one of their best -known recordings. But the history of that song goes back much further. According to music historians the song originated as one of the marching songs of the southern confederacy during the Civil War.The author is unknown and very much about the song’s beginnings has been lost with the passage of time. But the subject of the song remains an important part of our diet even today.
    Last spring my uncle Clayton Hampton gave me a small bag of raw green peanuts. He thought I might be interested in planting a few in my garden. I planted peanuts many years ago and successfully harvested a small crop of the tasty legumes. But I have not grown them in many years. So I was excited to consider planting them once more. I actually divided the small bag between my own garden and my daughter's garden a couple of miles down the road. I planted the peanuts in May remembering that this is a hot weather crop and requires a relatively long growing season. The plants came up without difficulty, grew to about 18 inches tall and began to spread left to right in the row. I cultivated the peanuts several times and then left them alone until this week. Anticipating a killing frost next week, I decided that it was time to harvest the crop.
    Harvesting a small amount of peanuts is best done by hand. One simply walks through the row and pulls the multi stemmed plant from the ground. In theory the peanuts are attached to the root system of the plant, and they all come out together. My ground was wet today, and I found myself digging out some of the still buried peanuts by hand. Nonetheless, out of a 20 foot row, I was able to harvest about 3/4 of a 5 gallon bucket full of raw peanuts still in their shells.
    It will be necessary for the peanuts to thoroughly dry before I can do anything with them., so I will spread them in the barn so that they can I have a reasonable circulation of air. I will shell the peanuts once they have dried.    Then I will carefully set aside a small bag of green peanuts which I will use as seed for next year's planting.
     Yes, I have already decided that another year of peanuts is in the planning. The remainder of the green peanuts will be used in the making of an old family traditional Christmas gift. You guessed it. Homemade peanut brittle!
    As the old song concludes, “peas, peas, peas, peas, eatin' goober peas, gracious how delicious, eatin' goober peas!” Except at my house, it’s eatin' peanut brittle!
    I have included a photograph of a peanut plant with the green shells still attached to the roots and stem.  I thought some of my northern friends might not have seen peanuts as they are being harvested. Now you will know a little bit more about goober peas.
    If you'd like to hear the song and read the lyrics, you can find them here:  American Battlefield Trust/Goober Peas.