By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Did you know that you can plant your own peanuts at home? This hot-season crop is actually easy to grow in a home garden. Keep reading to learn how to grow peanuts in your garden.
How to Grow Peanuts
Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) prefer a long, warm growing season and are typically planted from April (after the threat of frost has past) through June. When you are growing peanuts, plant them in well-draining, sandy soil that is rich in organic matter such as leaves, compost or well-rotted manure. They also need to be planted in a sunny location.
Planting requirements vary somewhat among peanut varieties. There are bunch-type peanuts and runner-type peanuts.
Runner-type peanuts have a vining growth habit and require a little more space in the garden than their bunch-type counterparts. Three to five seeds are generally planted 2-3 inches deep, spacing 7 -8 inches with rows at least 24 inches apart.
The sowing of bunch-type, which includes Virginia varieties, is about 1 ½-2 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart.
Once seedlings have reached about six inches, a layer of mulch, such as straw, can be added to help keep weeds under control. Calcium is important for the growth and development of pods; therefore, adding gypsum to the soil once flowering begins may be necessary.
Weekly soaking to prevent the pods from drying out is also essential.
How Do Peanuts Grow?
Most peanuts flower about six to eight weeks after planting them. The flowers are produced near the ground on bunch plants and along the runners of vining types. While the plants flower above ground, however, the pods develop below. As the flowers fade, the stem begins bending downward, carrying the pods to the ground. Since peanuts bloom over a period of several weeks (up to three months), the pods mature at various intervals. Each pod yields two to three peanuts.
Most peanuts are ready to harvest anywhere from 120-150 days after planting, give or take. Harvesting peanuts usually takes place in late summer/early fall when foliage turns yellow. As peanuts mature, their hull color changes—from white or yellow to dark brown or black. You can test the maturity of peanuts by scraping the middle of the pods with a sharp knife. A dark brown to black hull means they’re ready to harvest.
Carefully dig up plants and shake off excess soil. Then dry the peanuts by hanging them upside down in a warm, dry area for about two to four weeks. Once dry, place them in mesh bags and store them in a well-ventilated area until ready for roasting. Boiled peanuts are best just after digging and prior to drying.