Peanuts belong to the legume family of vegetables that are rich in healthy fats and other micronutrients. While this crop is mostly considered to grow well in the southern part, it can be grown even in the North if the right variety is chosen and the plants start indoors. If you wish to grow peanuts in your garden, this article will guide you through the procedure and care for peanut plants to produce a good yield when followed closely.
Types of Peanuts
There are four popular types of peanuts:
The Runner is a type that is commonly grown in Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma. These plants produce uniform medium-sized seeds that contain two seeds per pod. The plants grow as low bush and are ready to harvest in 130 to 150 days. The seeds have a uniform size making them suitable for roasting, and are used for making beer and peanut butter.
The Spanish type is popular for its high oil content and is used extensively in making peanut butter, producing oil, and in the snack industry. The plants are low-growing bush; the seeds are small and oval with reddish-brown skin. The peanuts are ready to harvest in 120 days from planting. The variety is commonly grown in Texas, Oklahoma, and South Africa.
The Virginia type of peanuts has the largest-sized seeds of all four types. They contain two or three seeds per pod and are most often roasted. The plant grows to the size of a small bush and produces pods that are ready to harvest in 130 to 150 days. It is almost exclusively grown in Virginia and some in North Carolina.
Of all the four varieties, the Valencia type has the shortest harvest time of 90 to 110 days from the plantation. It also has small oval seeds that are crowded in the pods. The plant type can grow over 3 feet tall. They look like a small bush with the pods clustered close to the plant’s base. These peanuts are usually roasted within the shell and used in cocktails and confectionery. Most of the Valencia type is grown in New Mexico.
When to Plant Peanuts
It is important to pick the time right to sow peanut seeds because:
- Peanuts take a considerably long time to grow. They need anywhere between 100 and 160 frost-free days, depending on the type of the plant. Therefore, they are often planted around spring, a few weeks after the last frost date is passed. The harvesting is done around the first week of September.
- For growing peanuts in the colder climates of the north, it is better to choose a variety that matures early in about 100 days. The plants should also be grown on a southward-facing slope.
- To get a head start on the season, you can also try sowing the seeds indoors about 5 to 8 weeks before they are transplanted outside.
Where to Plant Peanuts
Peanuts need abundant sunlight to grow and plenty of space to deposit their pods in the ground beneath them. Follow these tips to plant peanuts:
- Peanut grow in abundant sunlight. If you are growing them in the garden, plant them in a place that gets sunlight all day. The same applies to peanuts grown in planters on the balcony.
- Since they prefer well-drained soils that are sandy-loamy with a pH around 5.8 to 6.2, they may not do well all across the country. The soil needs to be enriched with compost and gypsum if your geographical location is unsuitable for their growth.
- In northern latitudes, peanuts can be grown well on a downward slope facing south.
- If you wish to plant them in containers, you will need one that is at least 18 inches across and 12 inches deep.
- Peanuts can also be grown as companion plants with beets and potatoes. Avoid growing them with plants that grow taller and end up overshadowing them.
How to Plant Peanuts
Here is how to grow peanuts:
- It is best to choose a peanut variety that is well suited for the climatic condition of the place you stay. If you live in the colder northern regions, a variety such as the “Early Spanish,” which has a 100-day harvest span, will do well.
- To grow the peanuts, you will need fresh seeds that have been harvested recently for the best results. The processed grocery store peanuts won’t germinate; therefore, pick some good seeds from a farm store. The seeds mustn’t be taken out of their shells until just before planting. Otherwise, they could dry up and not germinate. Roasted seeds also can’t be planted.
- While planting, the seeds can either be put into the ground as whole shells or have the skin intact around the seed. Seeds that are sown before transplanting can be spaced 6 to 8 inches apart. Transplanted seedlings need to be placed 18 inches apart.
- If you are planting them in a planter or a pot, start with the one at least 6 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep. Clean the planter well with warm water and use a damp potting mix to sow the seeds. Containers made out of paper or peat also work well to germinate peanut seeds. Once ready, the plant can be transplanted with the container without having to remove the roots.
- Before you plant the seeds, ensure the potting mix has enough moisture but is not too wet. Remove the seeds from their shell, but be careful not to tear the delicate brown skin that surrounds the seeds. Damaging the skin will make it difficult or impossible for the seeds to germinate. Plant the seeds roughly 1 inch deep into the soil and cover them with loose, moist soil. If you are planting the seeds outside, they need to be placed 2 inches beneath the soil.
- When growing for the family, plant 10 to 12 seeds per member of the household. As the seeds germinate, the shoots develop within a few weeks, and the young plants are ready for transplantation.
- For transplantation, it is important to choose a site that gets 8 hours of plenty of sunlight every day. The plants thrive well in warm weather; therefore, it is imperative to keep them inside if you germinate the seeds in cold weather. Since peanuts are quite sensitive to frost, you have to give them two weeks before the weather passes before transplanting. If there’s a change in the weather, you can protect your transplanted plants by covering them with a plastic sheet.
- Before transplanting the plants, ensure the soil quality is sufficient to support the plants. The soil should be sandy loam, therefore, well-drained with plenty of organic material. If necessary, use little manure. Since peanuts produce nitrogen, there is no need for nitrogen-rich fertilizers. The soil’s pH level should also be slightly basic.
- Dig holes about 6 inches into the soil to transplant the seedling. Before placing the seedling inside, fill about 2 inches of the hole with loose soil and place the seedling. Cover the rest of the hole with soil mixed with a small amount of compost.
- If it is a small variety of peanuts, give it a space of 10 inches between each plant. Increase it to 18 inches if the variety tends to grow big.
- Pour enough water such that the soil is moist but not soaking wet.
Peanuts Varieties to Grow
Of the four different varieties of peanuts, these can be cultivated easily at home:
1. Runner Peanuts
Florunner, Sunrunner, Southern Runner, Georgia Runner
2. Virginia peanuts
Bailey, Champs, Gregory, Phillips, Titan
3. Spanish Peanuts
Georgia-045, Olin, Pronto, Spanco, Tamspan 90.
Harvesting and Storing Peanuts
Here is how to harvest peanuts when your crop is ready:
- When the plant is ready for harvesting, it shows signs, such as yellowing and wilting of the leaves.
- The harvest time is typically between 120 to 150 days for most varieties.
- When the plants appear to be dead, use a garden fork for leverage to lift the whole plant out of the ground.
- The peanuts are attached firmly to the plants and will have a lot of soil stuck to them. Shake away the soil and collect them in a basket.
- Set the plants with the peanuts intact out for drying in the sun for about two weeks.
- When they are fully ready, the seeds can be removed from the hull.
Storing and Preserving
- Peanuts that are raw and unshelled need to be stored in a dark, dry, and well-ventilated place. They will last for three months before beginning to dry up.
- Peanuts that are shelled and dried can be stored in a cool and dry place for up to a year.
- The shelled peanuts can be used for various purposes, such as roasted snacks, peanut butter, or stored frozen for future use.
How Many Peanuts Does One Plant Produce
Based on the variety of the peanut and the cultivating condition, each plant can produce 25 to 50 peanut pods. All the pods do not mature simultaneously; hence, the harvest time is when most of the pods are mature.
How Big Do Peanut Plants Grow
The peanut plant sizes can vary depending on the variety of the plant. The Virginia type of peanuts, for example, grows about 24 inches from the ground. On the other hand, the Valencia type grows much taller and can reach up to 50 inches above the ground.
How Far Apart Do You Plant Peanuts
When you grow this crop, it is advisable to maintain a distance of 18 inches between the individual plants. The individual rows can be spaced between 12 to 24 inches.
How Long Do Peanuts Take to Grow
Depending on the variety of peanuts, they can take anywhere from 5 to 6 months to grow. Therefore, if you plant them early in the summer, they will be ready for harvest by mid-fall. An indicator that the peanuts are ready for harvest is that the leaves turn yellow and begin to wilt, with the plant taking on a sick-dying look in general. This is because much of the energy of the plant goes into maturing the seeds. So do not harvest if the plant still looks lush and healthy. The harvest should also be done before the first frost by removing the whole plant from the ground.
Tips to Take Care of Peanut Plants
Here are some useful tips to take care of peanut plants:
- Watering regularly is essential to keep the soil evenly moist. However, do not water excessively, especially after the plants begin to flower. Allow the soil to dry up between periods of watering. Excessive water can result in growing empty pods.
- Since peanuts are nitrogen-fixing plants, they do not need fertilizers. When preparing the beds, you only need to use aged compost once.
- Since the pegs need to penetrate the ground, the soil should be kept soft and free from crusting. You can do it through mulching and keeping the soil around free from weeds. Keeping the soil loose and mulching make harvesting easier.
- Other than pests such as rodents, peanuts usually don’t get infected with diseases or crop-destroying organisms.
- Since peanuts grow underground, when the plants reach about 6 inches from the ground, they make a hill around them with loose soil to help the pegs penetrate easily into the soil.
- Before the growing season, cultivate the seeds inside the house 5 to 8 weeks before transplanting to give a head start for the plants before the growing season.
Peanuts are tropical plants that can be grown easily in most parts of the country. They thrive well in warm climates and can grow in open yards or even in a container on the balcony. They take about 5 months to mature and be ready for harvest from the time they are planted. Each plant gives about 25 to 50 peanuts, and sufficient amounts can be grown for the entire family on a simple plant bed.