There are many things that drive me nuts as a gardener, such as uncooperative weather and insects and pests that dine uninvited on my plants. Those things I can live without. But there’s one thing that I do like driving me nuts in the garden and that’s Spanish peanut plants. If you’ve ever enjoyed peanut candies or peanut butter, then I’m sure you are familiar with their tasty potential and can’t wait to get started growing Spanish peanuts in your garden. So let’s get talking about Spanish peanut information and find out how to grow Spanish peanuts!
Spanish Peanut Information
Spanish peanuts are one of four main types of peanuts grown in the U.S. and are distinguishable from their other counterparts (Runner, Valencia and Virginia) by their smaller kernels, reddish-brown skin and higher oil content. Depending on the cultivar selected, Spanish peanuts can take 105-115 days to maturity.
Of the Spanish peanut varieties available, ‘Early Spanish’ is the most easy to find and, as the name suggests, is on the lower end of the days to maturity spectrum. This makes it a solid choice for wannabe peanut growers in the north, provided the growing stretch is comprised of frost-free days.
One tip to get a head start on the growing season is to start your Spanish peanut plants indoors in biodegradable pots 5-8 weeks before transplanting.
How to Grow Spanish Peanuts
Before you get started growing Spanish peanuts, you need to prepare a proper garden space, one that receives full sunlight. The garden soil should be characteristically loose, well-draining, sandy, enriched with organic matter, and register a pH in the 5.7 to 7.0 range.
The seeds that are to be planted are actually shelled raw peanuts. ‘Raw’ in this case means unprocessed (i.e. not roasted, boiled, or salted). You can easily source these seeds online or sleuth them at your local garden center or grocer. Sow the seeds 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) deep, 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm.) apart in rows 2 feet (61 cm.) apart.
Before too long you will witness clover-like plants emerging from the ground which will set small yellow flowers. Once these flowers are pollinated, their fertilized ovaries begin to elongate and penetrate what is referred to as ‘pegs’ into the ground. It is at the tip of these pegs that peanut fruit begins to form.
When your plants reach 6 inches (15 cm.) tall, loosen and aerate the soil by lightly and gingerly digging around the base of each plant. At a height of 12 inches (30 cm.), hill the soil high around each plant as you would with potatoes, then lay down a light mulch using compost, straw or glass clippings to retain moisture and minimize weeds. As with any plant in your garden, attentiveness to routine weeding and watering will be of great benefit to your peanut plants.
After your plant succumbs to the first fall frost, it is time to harvest. When the soil is dry, carefully lift the plant out of the soil with a garden fork and gently shake the excess soil off the plant. Hang the plant upside down for a week or two in a warm dry location, such as a garage, then pull the peanut pods from the plant and continue to air dry them for another 1-2 weeks before storing in a well-ventilated place.