- Can you Grow Your Own Peanuts?
- Growing Peanuts – Plant Info:
- Growing Peanuts – Varieties:
- A ‘How to’ on Growing Peanuts
- How to Care for Your Peanuts
- Growing Peanuts – Pests & Problems
- Best and Worst Companion Plants
- How to Store Your Peanuts
- How to Use Your Peanuts
- How to Grow Peanuts at Home
- Which Peanut Plants to Grow
- Harvesting Peanuts
- Growing Peanuts in Containers
- What Is a Peanut?
- Types of Peanuts
- Planting Peanuts
- Caring for Peanuts
- Harvesting and Storing Peanuts
- Peanut Varieties to Grow
- It’s Fun Growing Your Own Peanuts!
- Indoor Peanut Growing – Learn How To Grow Peanuts Indoors
- How to Grow Peanuts Indoors
- How to grow your own peanut plant
- How to grow peanuts
Can you Grow Your Own Peanuts?
Q. I want to interest my grandson in gardening. Can I plant unshelled, untreated regular peanuts (say from Whole Foods) in a bed where I had potatoes three years ago? Thanks very much; you’re our ‘reliable source’!
- —Glenna in Huntingdon Valley, PA
A. You can try growing peanuts, but I don’t recommend starting with ones from a store—for several reasons.
- Although peanuts are sold in raw form (and despite what you might hear, are relatively safe to eat uncooked, especially in small amounts), most packaged, store-bought peanuts are likely going to be treated in some way that makes them safer to consume but destroys their viability as seed stock. Roasted and boiled peanuts will, of course, be labeled as such. But unshelled and seemingly ‘raw’ peanuts may have undergone some type of heating or drying process to improve their shelf life and reduce the risk of a very dangerous type of mold to which peanuts are prone (more on this in a bit). No matter what, peanuts must have their thin skins intact to be viable as seed.
- Peanuts take up a lot of garden space for a long time, and you maximize your chances of getting something edible at the end by planting guaranteed seed of a known type and variety.
- There’s a good chance that store-bought peanuts are going to be either standard “Virginia peanuts” or “runners”. These types produce really large-sized ‘nuts’, but the varieties that are normally grown commercially need a really long growing season to mature—around 150 days of warm weather, which you won’t get in a Pennsylvania summer. Heck, you’ll have a hard time growing true Virginia peanuts in many parts of Virginia; they’re really a crop for areas deeper in the South, like the Carolinas and Georgia. There are ‘early’ varieties that require less growing time, but store-bought peanuts might not be early types. And I always tend towards caution when a child’s hopes risk being dashed—so…
Order fresh seed. If you have a reasonably long growing season (and want big ‘nuts’), look for an early variety of Virginia peanuts. If you have a short season, seek out a type that demands much less growing time, like “Spanish”, or red skinned peanuts (which require about 120 days of warm weather), and Valencias, some varieties of which are touted as being able to produce in as little as 90 days. (Early Valencias can allegedly be grown as far North as Canada.)
And although the vast majority of peanut seed is direct-sown after all chance of frost is gone, advanced gardeners who have the ability to successfully start their own healthy, stocky, good-looking plants from seed can gain a good 30 days by starting their peanuts indoors and transplanting them out when the soil is warm. You’d have to grow and plant them in peat pots or some other kind of ‘plant the pot and all’ contraption to avoid damaging the sensitive roots. And you really do have to know how to start healthy plants from seed indoors; garden soil and a “sunny windowsill” won’t cut it.
…Neither will most garden soil outdoors. Peanuts are prone to a very dangerous mold known as aflatoxin, and one way to keep this nasty creature at bay is to have superb drainage in your soil. Growing peanuts in heavy clay is not advised. Were I to give this crop a try, I would mix a big bag of perlite or soil-free mix into one of my best-draining raised beds to really lighten it up.
…And then I’d be patient. The soil temperature must be at least 65° F. (measured at a depth of four inches), and night time air temps have to be 55° F. or warmer before you can plant seed in the ground directly. Planting in cold wet soil will virtually guarantee failure.
Now some good news: although we use them like tree nuts, peanuts are legumes. Like peas and beans, they have the ability to take plant-feeding nitrogen right out of the air we breathe. So if you want great yields and serious bragging rights, treat the seed with a peanut-specific inoculant; this natural bacteria will convey that ‘nitrogen-fixing’ power to the plant’s roots.
Plant the inoculated seed—unshelled but with the fragile skin intact—an inch or two deep. If the soil tests acidic, add some lime or wood ash to it before planting; peanuts like a soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7 (and adequate calcium is important to getting quality ‘nuts’). The plants will produce pretty yellow flowers that will then ‘peg’ or bury themselves in the soil, where they will produce the desired ‘nuts’ underground. So you can’t use mulch—it prevents successful pegging. But you can spread a calcium-rich plant food (like one designed for tomatoes) on the surface of the soil mid-season. Cover it with a thin layer of compost to get it working fast.
Then, when you reach your variety’s stated maturity date, pull up a sample plant and crack a few nuts; if they come off the plant easily and the inside of the shell is a dark color, they’re ripe. Cure your harvest by spreading the ‘nuts’ out single-file in a bright, airy spot until they’re dry enough to crack. Keep them dry and use them as quickly as possible. You can eat a few raw, but roasting or boiling is recommended. No matter what, discard any moldy-looking peanuts immediately and wash your hands well. That aflatoxin is a nasty actor.
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Would you like to take a guess what the biggest ‘go-to’ snack option is around my house?
It isn’t potato chips or snack cakes. It is actually everything peanut based. We snack on nuts and will literally just go get a big spoonful of peanut butter.
Honestly, I think it’s because it doesn’t take much to fill you up when you eat peanuts since it has protein, but we all do it and it helps keep our snacking to a minimum.
So with eating all of those peanuts, it is important to know all about growing peanuts too. That is what I’ll be discussing with you. We are going to cover all of our bases (hopefully) so let’s get started:
Growing Peanuts – Plant Info:
- Hardiness Zones: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
- Soil: Sandy, loam, PH between 6.0 to 6.5, well-drained
- Sun Exposure: Full sun, at least 6 hours of sun per day
- Start Indoors: 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date
- Hardening Off: 2 weeks before transplanting outdoors
- Transplant Outdoors: 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost date, when soil temperature is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit
- Spacing: 6 to 8 inches between plants and 12 to 24 inches between rows
- Depth: 1 to inches seed depth
- Best Companions: Potato, beet, cabbage, carrot, celery, celeriac, cucumber, eggplant, peas, radish, strawberry, savory, marigold, tansy, lettuce
- Worst Companions: Corn, pole beans, basil, fennel, onion, kohlrabi
- Watering: Regularly, 1 to 2 inches of water per week, stop watering when harvest time draws near
- Fertilizing: Side dress with low nitrogen fertilizer after planting, apply calcium rich fertilizer during flowering
- Common Problems: Armyworms, thrips, velvet bean caterpillar, root knot nematode, two-spotted spider mite, botrytis blight, charcoal rot, early leaf spot, cylindrocladium black rot, late leaf spot, phyllosticta leaf spot, rust, sclerotinia spot, southern stem spot, verticillium wilt, web blotch, stunt, tomato spotted virus, peanut bud necrosis
- Harvest: After 85 to 130 days of sowing
Growing Peanuts – Varieties:
There are a wide variety of peanuts, but they can be broken down into four main categories. Here are the four categories:
via Health Benefits
Runners are some of the most common peanuts. The reason is because of their uniform size. Therefore, they are more appealing for marketing purposes.
via Bates Nut Farm
Virginia peanuts are probably some of the most recognizable because if you ever eat store bought peanuts in the shell, they are probably Virginia peanuts. The reason they choose these peanuts is because of their size.
via Nuts in Bulk
Spanish peanuts are smaller. They have a red and brown skin on them, and you would most likely recognize them if you ever eat peanut candies. Because of how small they are, they are great for candy use.
via Sherck Seeds
If you like boiled peanuts then you are familiar with Valencia peanuts. They have 3 or more kernels inside the shell. Then they are most noticeable for their bright red skin.
A ‘How to’ on Growing Peanuts
Growing peanuts really isn’t as difficult as you might think. Follow a few basic steps, and you should be well on your way to raising a crop of peanuts.
The biggest thing to know about raising peanuts is that they take anywhere from 100-130 days and those days must be free of frost. This makes growing peanuts a bit of challenge in the northern climates.
But if you start them early enough, place them on a south facing piece of land while growing, and add some crop covers you might still have a chance.
Because peanuts take so long to grow, if you live in northern climates, you may have to start them indoors.
If you do this, you’ll need to plant the raw peanuts in a plastic bowl that has some depth to it. You’ll need to fill the bowl about 2/3 deep with potting soil. Make sure the soil is moist.
Next, you’ll need to plant the raw peanuts to where they are about 4 inches deep and only plant about 4 peanuts.
Then you’ll want to completely cover the peanuts with soil. When the peanuts have sprouted you’ll need to transplant them.
When planting outdoors, you’ll need to place your peanut seeds about 2 inches deep and 8 inches apart in loose soil. This is important because of how they grow. If the soil is too tight and not well drained, then they’ll struggle to grow.
2. Cultivate the Plants
Once your plants have reached 6 inches tall it is time to cultivate around each plant. This is to make it easier for the plant to spread out and grow.
3. Hill the Plants
Once you’ve cultivated your plants, you’ll need to hill them. This basically means to build up a mound of mulch around the plants. This is to protect the roots.
4. Watch Them Grow
via Balcony Garden Web
After you’ve done all of this, you’ll hopefully begin to see little yellow flowers start to blossom and bloom on your plants. They form along the stem of the peanut plant.
Once the flowers dry up, you’ll begin to see little ovaries form and then fall over and tunnel their way into the ground. This is your peanuts beginning to form.
5. Harvest Your Peanuts
via Life City
When you harvest your peanuts, you’ll need to do it before the frost hits. You’ll pull up the entire plant after cultivating with a garden fork and shake off any excess dirt.
Finally, hang up the plants inside to dry so then you can eat them after they have dried completely.
How to Care for Your Peanuts
Peanuts don’t need an excessive amount of care. Keep these three things in mind, and your plants should hopefully be happy, healthy, and productive:
1. Don’t Cultivate Too Harshly
Peanut plants are rather shallow plants. The peanuts form right at the surface of the plant. So when you cultivate your plants, be sure not to do this too deeply because you could potentially upset the peanuts that are forming and wreck your harvest.
2. Water Regularly
Your peanut plants will need to be watered regularly, as most plants do. Be sure to water them weekly until you know that the soil is dampened down to 6-8 inches below the soil.
Once you know this, you can get away with watering a little less. The best way to measure this would just be to stick your finger in the soil around the plant. If it is wet enough, then you know you’ve watered adequately.
3. Mulch Your Plants
Mulch is a great friend of the gardener. The reason is that it helps to hold moisture in around your plants and also smothers out weeds.
So use mulch around your peanut plants. It will allow ample moisture to remain near the plant and also stop weeds from taking over around your plants.
Growing Peanuts – Pests & Problems
Peanuts seem like a fairly easy plant to grow. The only downside is that they have a lot of insects that enjoy them as much as we do. Here are some problems to be on the lookout for:
These are little bugs that make their way into a lot of gardens. They munch on plants, weaken them, and spread disease in the process.
Solution: Use insecticidal spray to put a stop to aphids.
2. Leaf Spot
This is a fungus that forms in climates that are warm and moist. Most climates are at some point or another.
So if you begin to see yellow spots forming on the leaves of peanut plants and then eventually see the leaves falling off of the plant, you should start checking to see if they have leaf spot.
Solution: The best way to stop this fungus from spreading is to rotate crops each year. Also, if you see any damaged leaves, be sure to remove them and burn them so the fungus can’t spread.
via Growers Supply
Nematodes have different varieties. There are those that are harmful to plants and those that are beneficial to plants.
If you have the harmful kind you’ll notice that your plants are suffering from stunted growth. Also, nematodes kill root systems and spread disease.
Solution: The best way to stop harmful nematodes is to rotate your crops and add a lot of organic matter to your garden before you plant the garden.
4. Leaf Hoppers
via Pest Products
Leaf hoppers are little bugs that hop from plant to plant. They spread disease and cause plants to begin to yellow as well.
Solution: The best way to control leaf hoppers is to control weeds and to cover your plants with floating row covers if you know that you have leaf hoppers. This way they can’t jump from plant to plant.
5. Root Worms
Root worms are little worms that bore into a plant and kills them because they are feeding on the plant.
Solution: Clear your garden area at the end of each season so they can’t overwinter in your garden. Then treat your soil with beneficial nematodes.
via Planet Natural
These are little microscopic bugs that transmit diseases all over your garden. They also leave white patches on the leaves of the plant.
Solution: Use insecticidal soap to stop thrips.
via Do my own Pest Control
When I see the word grub I automatically think of Timone and Pumba from The Lion King. But you probably don’t have a warthog and a meerkat digging through your garden to eat these pests.
And if you do, then you have a larger issue on your hands. Grubs live in the ground and feed on the peanuts that are underground.
Solution: Don’t grow your peanut plants where grass was recently grown as there might be grubs in that area.
via Gardening Know How
Wireworms are dark brown and pale yellow. They feed on the roots of the peanut plant.
Solution: You’ll want to control this pest with beneficial nematodes as well.
Best and Worst Companion Plants
Peanuts have certain plants that it should be planted near and others that it should not be planted near. The plants that it likes are potatoes and beets.
However, there are other plants like corn and pole beans that should not be planted near peanuts. The reason is that they provide too much shade and hinder plant growth.
So try to keep taller plants away from your peanut plant in order to see optimum growth.
How to Store Your Peanuts
Once your peanuts have dried after harvest, you’ll need to decide how to store them. If you shell them they last only a matter of weeks in a refrigerated area.
However, if you leave them in the shells they can last on your pantry shelves for months. But the way to preserve your peanuts the longest is by leaving them in the shell and placing them in a freezer bag.
If you do this, peanuts should last up to one whole year in the freezer.
How to Use Your Peanuts
1. Spicy Peanuts
If you’ve ever had spicy peanuts, you probably love them. I say this because with all of the amazing seasonings, how could you not?
So if you’d like to have a healthier homemade snack that can be easily whipped together, then you’ll want to check out this recipe.
2. Peanut Brittle
When I found this recipe, my mouth immediately began to water. One of my favorite snacks since childhood has been homemade peanut brittle.
One of my oldest memories was eating this amazing treat at my great grandmother’s house. So make some of your own memories and try this delicious recipe.
3. Thai Peanut Chicken
After eating dinner at a friend’s house where she made this killer Thai Peanut Chicken recipe, I learned I love to add peanuts to my dinner recipe. It adds this great crunch.
So when I saw this recipe and saw that it could be done in a slow cooker, I was sold. You might enjoy it too.
4. DIY Peanut Butter
When I saw how easy it was to make my own peanut butter, I wondered why in the world I had been buying it for all of these years.
So if you love peanut butter as much as I do, then you’ll definitely want to try this recipe and tutorial and give your own DIY peanut butter a try.
Well, now you know all about:
- growing peanuts;
- caring for peanut plants;
- what to look out for when growing peanuts; and
- using your peanuts!
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How to Grow Peanuts at Home
Grow peanuts in a location with at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day and loose, rich, well-drained soil. If your soil is compacted or composed of clay, add organic material such as compost to break it up. Like root crops such as carrots, peanut plants need to have spaces between soil particles where their pegs or peduncles — the peanut seedpods — can grow.
Northern gardeners should start peanut seeds indoors using peat or biodegradable pots that can be placed directly into the garden when the soil temperature reaches 65 degrees F.
Sow peanut seeds directly into the ground when the soil is warm. In well-drained soils, plant 2 to 3 inches deep. In clay soils, plant 1-1/2 to 2 inches deep. Seeds should be spaced 6 to 8 inches apart, then thinned to allow 18 inches between plants. To save space, plant in double rows, staggering seeds 18 inches apart.
Plants produce a small yellow flower after 30 to 40 days. Each flower produces a long pointed peg that pushes into the soil to form a peanut. When the plants are about a foot tall, mound soil around the base of the plant to allow more pegs to set. Because the plants keep setting flowers, the pegs mature at different times.
Proper watering is the key to successful peanut growing. Keep seeds and young plants moist after planting until germination. From that time until flowers set, plants need about 1 inch of rain or water each week. About 50 to 100 days after planting, keep the soil consistently moist to allow pegs to develop.
Because peanuts are shallow-rooted, hand-weed around the plants. Once pegs begin to develop, place a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch around the plants to maintain moisture and reduce weeds.
Stop watering about two weeks before harvesting peanuts. Avoid overhead watering, which can damage the leaves.
Which Peanut Plants to Grow
Start with seeds from a reputable seed distributor so you know the characteristics of the variety you grow. The seeds — the peanuts — arrive still tucked in their shells. It’s best to open and shell them for planting, although it’s not necessary. Don’t shuck off the papery outer layer on the seeds; that is needed for germination.
There are four major types of peanuts: Valencia, Spanish, Virginia, and runner. The seeds come in a variety of colors, including red, black, white, and variegated.
Valencia peanuts take the shortest amount of time to mature, growing three to six red seeds per pod used for roasting in the shell or for boiling. Spanish types have high oil content. Virginia peanuts, which grow the largest seeds, are sometimes called ballpark peanuts and are often used for roasting. Runner peanuts are uniform in size, with two seeds per pod.
Each peanut plant produces 30 to 50 peanuts.
Count the number of days since you planted the peanuts, checking sample pegs a week or two before the amount of time advised for that variety. It’s easiest to dig when the soil is lightly moist but not wet.
When the foliage begins to turn yellow, carefully loosen the soil around the base of each plant with a spading fork or a shovel. Hand-pull or lift the plant by the base, bringing the peanuts up with the roots. Shake off excess soil. Allow the entire plant to dry, with the peanuts on it, for about a week. Leave the plant outside in the sun if no rain is forecast, or hang it in a warm, dry location, taking care not to place the pods within easy reach of rodents.
After the first round of drying, cut the peanut pods from the plant and spread them out in a single layer in a cool, dry area to cure for another two to three weeks. Check periodically to be sure no mold is growing. If you find mold, do not eat the peanuts; they may be growing a toxic fungus.
After the second round of drying, the peanuts can be roasted or stored in a mesh bag for several months in their shells in a cool, dry place.
Growing Peanuts in Containers
It’s a little more difficult to grow peanuts in containers because pots restrict the amount of space the underground parts of the plant can reach. Choose a pot that’s at least 20 inches across and 18 inches deep per plant. Be sure your container has drainage holes, and use a potting mix; garden soil is too dense. Place the pot in full sun, and keep it well-watered but not waterlogged.
What Is a Peanut?
Peanuts are not nuts at all. The plants are legumes, related to peas and beans. The seeds are the peanut pods that grow underground instead of on trees like tree nuts such as walnuts and pecans.
After harvesting, peanuts can be ground into peanut butter, roasted in their shells, or boiled for a traditional Southern snack. They are nutritious ingredients in many baked and cooked foods.
- By Deb Wiley
The peanut is a warm-weather perennial vegetable that requires 120 to 130 frost-free days to reach harvest. Sow peanuts in the garden 3 to 4 weeks after the average last frost date in spring, when the soil has warmed to at least 65°F. To get a head start on the season start peanuts indoor 5 to 8 weeks before transplanting seedlings outdoors.
Description. The peanut is a tender perennial usually grown as an annual, a member of the legume family. The peanut plant grows from 6 to 30 inches tall, depending on the type; some are upright and erect in habit, others are more spreading. Plants form two sets of opposite leaves on each stem and yellow, sweet-pea-like, self-pollinating flowers. The flowers occur on elongated, pea-like stems just above the soil and after pollination, they dip and push into the ground 1 to 3 inches to develop underground seed ends called pegs or peduncles; these are the seed pods we call peanuts.
Types of Peanuts
There are four basic types of peanuts:
- Runner. Runner type has uniform medium-sized seeds, usually two seeds per pod, growing from a low bush. Runner types are ready for harvest 130 to 150 days from planting. The uniform sizes of the seed make these a good choice for roasting (often used as beer nuts) and peanut butter. Runner types are grown in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- Spanish. Spanish type has small, roundish seeds covered with reddish-brown skin, growing on a low bush. Spanish types are ready to harvest 120 days from planting. The Spanish type peanut has high oil content and is used for oil, peanut butter, and snacks. Spanish type peanuts are commonly grown in Oklahoma, Texas, and South Africa.
- Virginia. Virginia type has the largest seed of the four peanut types; the seed is most often roasted. There are commonly two and sometimes three seeds per pod. The Virginia type peanut stands to 24 inches tall and spreads to 30 inches wide and is ready for harvest 130 to 150 days from harvest. Virginia type peanuts are mostly grown from southeastern Virginia into northeastern North Carolina.
- Valencia. Valencia type has three to six small, oval seeds crowded into each pod. Each seed is covered with a bright-red skin. Valencia peanuts are often roasted in-the-shell or boiled fresh and are often used in confection and cocktails. The plants grow to about 50 inches tall and spread about 30 inches; most of the pods are clustered around the base of the plant. The Valencia type is ready for harvest 95 to 100 days from planting. Most Valencia peanuts are grown in New Mexico.
Peanuts grow best in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. A sandy-loamy soil is best.
Site. Plant peanuts in full sun. Peanuts grow best in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. A sandy-loamy soil is best. Double-dig clay soil and add gypsum and aged compost. The soil must be loose so that the pegs can penetrate and grow. Peanuts prefer a soil pH of 5.8 to 6.2.
Planting time. Peanuts require at least 120 frost-free days to reach harvest. Sow peanuts in the garden 3 to 4 weeks after the average last frost date in spring, when the soil has warmed to at least 65°F. To get a head start on the season start peanuts indoor 5 to 8 weeks before transplanting seedlings outdoors. Peanuts require nearly all of the growing days to have an air temperature greater than 85°F.
Planting and spacing. Sow peanuts in the whole shell or in the papery skin surrounding the seed. Sow seed 1½ to 3 inches deep; set seed 6 to 8 inches apart; thin successful plants or set transplants 18 inches apart. Plant peanuts in double rows to save space, staggering the seeds 18 inches apart. Single rows can be spaced 12 to 24 inches apart. When the plants are 12 inches tall, mound earth up around the base of the plant so that faded flowers can set pegs down into the hill. For a head start on the season, start peanuts indoors in individual biodegradable peat or paper pots which can be set whole into the garden.
More tips at Peanut Seed Starting Tips.
Yield. Grow 10 to 12 peanut plants per household member.
Companion plants. Beets, potatoes. Do not grow peanuts in the shadow of tall plants such as corn or pole beans.
Container growing. Peanuts can be grown in containers but allow enough room for flower stems to dip into the soil to set pegs; choose a container at least 18 inches across and at least 12 inches deep.
Keep the soil moist until the plants begin to flower, then waterless.
Caring for Peanuts
Water and feeding. Peanuts prefer regular, even watering. Keep the soil moist until the plants begin to flower, then waterless. Once plants are established, allow the soil to dry between waterings. Empty pods, sometimes called “blind” pods, are the result of too much rain or humidity at flowering time. Prepare planting beds with aged compost; peanuts, like other legumes, supply their own nitrogen.
Care. Mulch around peanuts to keep the soil surface from crusting and becoming hard; this will allow pegs to penetrate the soil. Keep the planting beds weed-free and cultivate lightly to keep the soil loose. Mulching around peanuts will make harvesting easier.
Pests. Peanuts have no other serious pest problems. Fence rodents out of the garden.
Diseases. Peanuts have no serious disease problems.
Harvesting and Storing Peanuts
Harvest. Peanuts will be ready for harvest when the leaves turn yellow and begin to wither, usually 120 to 150 days after planting. Lift pods with a garden fork, pulling up the whole plant. Shake away loose soil and hang the whole plant to dry for about two weeks in a warm, dry place. Seeds can be removed when the hulls are completely dry.
Storing and preserving. Raw, unshelled peanuts can be kept in a dry, dark, well-ventilated place for up to 3 months. Dried shelled peanuts can be stored in a cool, dry place for 10 to 12 months. Shelled peanuts can be sprouted, frozen, or used for peanut butter, or roasted for snacks.
Peanut Varieties to Grow
Common name. Peanut
Botanical name. Arachis hypogaea
Origin. South America
It’s Fun Growing Your Own Peanuts!
Growing peanuts is a fun activity for the family.
The peanut plant is one of the most intriguing plants in the plant kingdom. As a child, I was curious to know why the fruits of the peanut plant were also called ground nuts. The answer I was given was that they are harvested by digging the plant out from the ground, which is unlike how we usually harvest fruits – by plucking them off branches.
I also wanted to know how the fruits of the peanut plant were produced and how they ended up underground, so I asked my Mother to bring me to the provision shop to buy some raw peanut seeds which I then sowed into a pot of soil. That kick-started my journey of discovery.
This is how the peanut plant looks. Its fruits are all produced below the ground.
After harvesting the peanut fruits from the plant, check if the leaves are still healthy, that is, without brown spots on them. Leaves and stems from healthy plants can be turned into compost, which is a valuable source of organic matter for the garden.
To this day, I find the peanut plant and its seeds powerful tools for sharing valuable lessons with the younger generation. For instance, how plants grow and how food is produced – such processes can be hard to witness in highly-urbanised Singapore.
Before you start growing the peanut, make sure no one at home is allergic to nuts and their products!
To start growing the peanut plant, you can buy raw peanuts with their shells still intact or shelled raw peanuts from the supermarket. I prefer the former as the seeds are fresher and germination is more likely to be successful as compared to the dried ones.
For container-growing, you can use a regular potting mix from the local nursery that is well-draining. A flower pot with a diameter of at least 20cm is sufficient for growing a peanut plant. If you intend to grow the plant outdoors, avoid a site with heavy clay soil as it will impede proper fruit development. Peanut plants are sun-lovers so you should place the pot in a sunny location where it can be exposed to at least six hours of direct sunlight.
To start, sow two to three seeds either directly into the pot or into the ground. Make a hole with your finger to a depth of about 2cm and lay a seed horizontally at the base of the hole. Once that is done, cover the seed with some potting mix or soil. After all the seeds have been sown, water the potting mix thoroughly. Water at least once daily to keep the soil moist. Seeds will start to germinate in a few days and seedlings will usually appear in about a week.
Watching them grow…
Under optimal conditions, peanut seedlings grow relatively quickly and flowering usually occurs in about a month after germination. You will see the dainty little yellow-orange flowers amid the lush green foliage. After each flower has been pollinated, the petals will fall off to reveal a peg (a peg is a budding ovary which grows out into a stem) which grows a long stalk that will find its way downwards to the soil surface. It will then bury itself in the loose soil beneath the ground and begin the development process to become the peanut that we are all familiar with.
This is how a peanut plant looks. Depending on the variety, some can grow as tidy, rounded mounds whereas others adopt a trailing growth habit.
During the growth period, ensure plants are well watered as they should never be allowed to dry out totally. Plants should preferably be fed regularly with a complete fertiliser that can either come in the water-soluble or slow-release pellet form.
It is important to grow peanuts during the drier period of the year. The plants will be prone to diseases if grown during the tropical rainy season.
Harvesting & enjoying them…
Peanuts are ready for harvest about three months after planting. This may vary according the variety grown, so some take require more time before harvesting. One way to find out if they are ready is to scratch the soil a little to look at the size of the fruits or to glimpse at the number of pegs buried in the ground.
To harvest them, you should carefully dig the plants out from the ground using a hand hoe. After that, the individual peanut fruits can be plucked from the plant and washed.
Freshly harvested peanuts can be enjoyed simply by boiling them in water with a little salt added. Get your kids involved in the harvesting process and let them discover how the peanut fruits are produced. Also have them wash and prepare the fruits for cooking. It will be a little dirty but definitely fun experience!
Look at the root zone of the peanut plant carefully. Besides the fruits, another interesting structure to look out for are the small round spheres that grow on the roots – these are root nodules that contain useful bacteria that harness nitrogen gas from the atmosphere and turn it into a form of nitrogen that plants can absorb for growth.
Did you know?
Peanut plants belong to the bean family (Fabaceae). Like the Rain Tree that grows along our streets, peanut plants also respond to darkness by closing its leaflets. For the excited and curious kid, you can put your potted peanut plant inside a cupboard for a while to watch this happen, or get them to watch the plant ‘sleep’ near bedtime when the skies have darkened.
By Dr Wilson Wong
You can grow several peanut plants closely to form an attractive ‘living’ mulch which can help to protect the soil surface from erosion and compaction due to heavy rain.
Peanut plants produce dainty yellow flowers which last only a day. The best time to admire them is when they first open in the morning, before they wilt!
Indoor Peanut Growing – Learn How To Grow Peanuts Indoors
Can I grow a peanut plant indoors? This may sound like an odd question to people who live in sunny, warm climates, but for gardeners in chilly climates, the question makes perfect sense! Growing peanut plants indoors is indeed possible, and indoor peanut growing is a fun project for both kids and adults. Want to learn how to grow peanuts indoors? Read on for easy steps.
How to Grow Peanuts Indoors
Indoor peanut growing isn’t at all that difficult. Simply start by filling a pot with lightweight potting mix. One 5- to 6-inch container is large enough for starting five or six seeds. Be sure the container has a drainage hole in the bottom; otherwise, your peanut plant is likely to suffocate and die.
Remove a small handful of raw peanuts from the shells. (Leave them in the shells until you’re ready to plant.) Plant the peanuts, not touching, then cover them with about one inch (2.5 cm.) of potting mix. Water lightly.
Cover the container with clear plastic to create a greenhouse environment for indoor peanut growing. Place the container in a warm room, or on top of your refrigerator. Remove the plastic as soon as the peanuts sprout – usually in about a week or two.
Move each seedling to a large container when the seedlings are 2 to 3 inches (5-7 cm.) tall. A pot measuring at least 12 inches (30 cm.) deep and 18 inches (45 cm.) across will hold one bushy peanut plant. (Don’t forget – the pot must have a drainage hole.)
Put the pot in a sunny spot and turn it every couple of days so the peanut plant grows straight. Water regularly to keep the potting mix slightly moist. Watch for yellow flowers to appear after about six weeks after germination. Regular water is even more important during blooming.
Feed the plant with a light application of fertilizer when flowers appear. Use a fertilizer rich in potassium and phosphorus, but no nitrogen. Legumes create their own nitrogen and don’t require supplements. Consider an organic fertilizer if you intend to eat the peanuts.
Harvest the peanuts when the leaves begin to turn dry and brown.
How to grow your own peanut plant
How to grow peanuts
I’m growing peanuts for the first time this year! Why not join me? You can buy seeds from most garden centres.
Peanut plants need regular watering, around 500mm to 1000mm of annual rainfall, or the equivalent water supply from irrigation. But they don’t like to sit in water, so plant them in well-drained soil or a multi-purpose compost.
Start them off in 5cm pots during May. You should start to see bright shoots after a week.
Then you can put them on a windowsill, but not in direct sunlight, or in a container on the patio. You can also plant them directly in the ground once any cold weather has passed.
The plants are self-pollinating, which means that the stalks bend over in the summer and force the developing nuts into the soil, where they develop. That’s why some people call them ‘ground nuts’.
The pods ripen approximately 120 days after the seeds are planted. To harvest the peanuts, pull the entire plant out of the ground to expose the pods. Leave it to dry out for three to four days, until the peanut pods lose around a third of their moisture.
TIP: The pods won’t dry if they are touching the soil, so bring the plant inside.
Once they are dry, separate the pods from the plant by threshing – just bash the plant against a hard surface like a sideboard or a step until the pods come off.
One word of warning – peanuts need four to five months of warm weather to develop the pods, so if you think it will be too cold, stick the plant in the greenhouse for a bumper crop.
DID YOU KNOW? It takes around 540 peanuts to make a standard 12oz (340ml) jar of peanut butter. The average American consumes more than 6lbs (5.4kg) of peanuts and peanut butter products in a year.
- Unlike most plants, the peanut plant flowers above the ground, but fruits below ground.
- From planting to harvesting, the growing cycle of a peanut takes 4 to 5 months, depending on the type and variety.
Many people are surprised to learn that peanuts do not grow on trees like pecans or walnuts. Peanuts are legumes, not tree nuts.
First, seeds are planted.
USA peanuts are planted after the last frost in April through May, when soil temperatures reach 65°—70°F. Farmers plant specially grown and treated peanut kernels from the previous year’s crop about two inches deep, approximately one to two inches apart in rows. Pre-planting tillage ensures a rich, well-prepared seedbed. For a good crop, 120 to 140 frost free days are required.
Seedlings Crack the Soil
Peanut seedlings rise out of the soil about 10 days after planting. They grow into a green oval-leafed plant about 18 inches tall. Unlike most plants, the peanut plant flowers above the ground, but fruits below ground.
Yellow flowers emerge around the lower portion of the plant about 40 days after planting. When the flowers pollinate themselves, the petals fall off as the peanut ovary begins to form.
“Pegging” is a Unique Feature
This budding ovary is called a “peg.” The peg enlarges and grows down and away from the plant forming a small stem which extends to the soil. The peanut embryo is in the tip of the peg, which penetrates the soil. The embryo turns horizontal to the soil surface and begins to mature taking the form of a peanut. The plant continues to grow and flower, eventually producing some 40 or more pods. From planting to harvesting, the growing cycle of a peanut takes 4 to 5 months, depending on the type and variety.
Watering is a Must
Peanut plants need 1½ to 2 inches of water per week during kernel development. If rain does not meet those needs, farmers will irrigate the fields. Without adequate rainfall, non-irrigated peanuts begin to show drought stress. The peanut is a nitrogen-fixing plant; its roots form modules which absorb nitrogen from the air and provide enrichment and nutrition to the plant and soil.
Harvest 120 to 160 Days After Planting.
When the plant has matured and the peanuts are ready for harvest, the farmer waits until the soil is not too wet or too dry before digging. When conditions are right, he or she drives a digger up and down the green rows of peanut plants. The digger has long blades that run four to six inches under the ground. The plant is loosened and the tap root is severed. Just behind the blade, a shaker lifts the plant from the soil, gently shakes the direct from the peanuts, rotates the plant and lays the plant back down in a “windrow”—with peanuts up and leaves down.
Peanuts contain 25 to 50 percent moisture when first dug and must be dried to 10 percent or less so they can be stored. They are usually left in windrows for two or three days to cure, or dry before being combined.
Combining is the Last Step.
After drying in the field, a combine separates the peanuts from the vines, placing the peanuts into a hopper on the top of the machine and depositing the vines back in the field. Freshly dug peanuts are then placed into peanut wagons for further curing with forced warm air circulating through the wagon. In this final stage, the moisture content is reduced to 10 percent for storage.