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:
Runners are some of the most common peanuts. The reason is because of their uniform size. Therefore, they are more appealing for marketing purposes.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!