Learn How to Grow Peanuts in Your Spring Garden
Peanuts are not actually nuts, they are a vegetable that belongs to the legume family. Learn how to grow peanuts in your garden and enjoy the benefits of this hassle free, delicious crop.
Peanuts are native to South America and take about 120 days tomature. The plant is hardy and can withstand light spring and fall frosts. Although peanut plants are normally considered to be Southern crops, Northern gardeners can grow them successfully if they start the plants indoors, and use certain varieties that can withstand cooler climates.
Peanuts require full sun and soil with good drainage. You can ensure enough drainage by working in organic matter in order to make it loose and friable.
Peanut seeds can be planted hulled or unhulled but be sure not to remove the thin, pinkish brown seed coverings, otherwise the seed will not germinate.
If you live in a cooler climate, start your peanut plant indoors in a large pot about a month before the last frost. Seeds should be sowed on inch deep and placed in the sunniest spot possible. Be sure to water weekly. You can transplant your peanut seedlings into your outside garden once the soil is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Transplants should be spaced 10 inches apart.
If you live in a warmer climate, plant your crop outdoors around the last expected frost. Space your seeds 2 inches deep and 5 inches apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. Be sure to water well and thin the plants to 10 inches apart.
Once it is about 1 foot tall, long, pointed pegs will grow from faded flowers and push 1 to 3 inches into the soil. This is where you will find the peanut. The soil around the plant should be soft enough so that the pegs growing from the plant do not have too much difficulty penetrating the soil. You can help your plant by laying down some light mulch, like grass clippings or straw to prevent the hardening of soil.
1 inch of water a week is perfect for a peanut plant. Since it is a legume, it can supply its own nitrogen. The use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer will encourage foliage instead of fruit, so try to avoid the use of any fertilizer that may contain a lot of nitrogen. Soil that is well-prepared will provide all the nutrients the plants need.
Once the leaves turn yellow and the peanuts’ inner shells have gold looking veins, your crop is ready to harvest. You can check the peanuts periodically by pulling out a few nuts and shelling them. The pegs will become very brittle and the pods will break off if you wait too long to harvest. To harvest, pull the entire plant our of the ground while the soil is moist. Dry the plant in an airy space until the leaves become crumbly. Once the plant is dried, remove the pods. Unshelled peanuts can be stored for up to a year if they are stored in an airtight container.