Ask the Gardener: Growing peanuts, houseplants and gourds

Posted on: December 17, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Everybody Gardens editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

  • Email
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(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)


Question 1: Growing peanuts

Sherry: Can we grow peanuts in Pittsburgh?
Doug: We sure can grow peanuts, although it’s not the most popular crop as many varieties take a long time to reach fruition and love warm weather. It can be done though. Start with seeds from a commercial supplier, not peanuts from the store. When I grow peanuts, I like to get them going indoors in something called peat pots in late April. Peanuts do not like their roots disturbed. Plant the peat pot directly in the garden when the chance of frost has passed, and it will fade away as the plant matures. Space the plants about a foot apart. The ‘Tennessee Red’ peanut from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is an earlier variety that should reach fruition by the end of the season.

Question 2: Houseplant recommendations

Marshall: You’ve seen my basement office. What plant(s) would you recommend for me? I need something very low-maintenance that will thrive in no light and won’t make a mess.

Doug: There are lots of different types of sansevieria or mother-in-law’s tongue that are indestructible. The only thing that can kill them is too much water or fertilizer. The same is true for pothos, peace lily, philodendron, jade plant and many other houseplants. Consider succulents, too. Search Sansevieria cylidrica, it’s pretty cool looking. Any good greenhouse will have lots of that stuff.

Question 3: Gourds

Lauren: I have some gourds that were left outside that froze. Can I still use the seeds for the spring?
Doug: No problem, the seeds should still be viable. If the plant was left in the garden, those seeds would freeze anyway. Store them in a Mason jar in a cool, dark place if you can.
bay leaf

Question 4: Bay leaf trees

Tom: Do you know if this is one bay leaf tree or multiple? It’s about 3 years old, and one sprout came up last year. I potted it up this fall and the third/fourth showed up. I didn’t think to look if I could separate these or not in the fall. My mom gave me them, so I’d like to get them on course. Any advice would be great.

Doug: I would be tempted to grow it as a multi-stemmed plant. Bay trees have a tendency to send up suckers. If you really want to grow it as single stem, I would just snip off the smallest of the suckers. You might be able to separate the one on the right, just be gentle.

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