What would the world be like if peanuts didn’t exist? We can’t imagine the world of food without them because they are so popular. Since we use peanuts in a lot of different dishes, it would be beneficial for everyone to know how to grow them. Raw peanuts are roasted and then boiled before being pureed to make oil. They’re ubiquitous!
Despite its popularity, the peanut plant is not often found in home gardens. It is shameful because it is actually very easy to grow. You can make homemade peanut butter and be a part of the long history of growing peanuts by planting them in your garden.
When we say lengthy, we mean it. The peanut plant has been domesticated for about 5-6 thousand years, dating back to at least 3000 BC. The plant slowly made its way from Central and South America to other parts of the world. People used it for food, folk medicine, and manufactured goods like fabric. People liked it not only because it tasted good, but also because it had practical uses.
The peanut plant is beneficial to the soil it is grown in as it enriches it with nitrogen, making it more efficient and sustainable to cultivate. US farmers thought that raising peanut crops was more preferable than raising cotton crops. This idea was promoted by George Washington Carver, an African-American agriculturist, in the 1920s and 1930s. He made a list of over 300 products that can be made from peanuts, many of which he invented. This list ranges from foods to cosmetics to gasoline. Carver is often seen as the founder of the modern peanut industry.
Since the early 1800s, peanuts have played a role in the history of the United States. They became a popular crop across the southern US. Jimmy Carter’s peanuts farmers increased notably when he became President. Today, peanuts are predominantly grown in China, but it is still possible to grow them in your backyard. We’re here to help you every step of the way to growing your own peanuts. We’ll share all the information we have on how to plant and grow them, as well as how to harvest and enjoy them.
All About Peanuts
The peanut is a tropical plant that originated in South America. It is a plant that self-pollinates and looks like a yellow-flowered, low sweet pea bush that grows slightly higher than 1 to 2 feet with a 3-foot spread. After the flowers wither and die, aflower stalk called a pegelongates and pushes the ovaryor pistil of the flowerinto the soil to a depth of 1 or 2 inches, where it will continue to grow and develop into a fruit. The female reproductive organ, the pistil, then develops into the pod containing the peanuts. The peanuts are ready to be harvested when they are mature. This is done by lifting them out of the ground.
What does the peanut plant look like and how does it improve the look of your garden? The plant doesn’t stand out and is very average looking from above the ground. It grows bushy, light-green leaves close to the ground. Each plant typically reaches only 1-1.5 feet tall.
How a peanut grows is pretty interesting. The plant produces yellow and orange flowers from July to September. Once a flower has been pollinated, a stem known as a peg begins to grow from it. This stem droops downwards and eventually buries itself in the soil. The fertilized ovules travel from the flower to the ground where they develop into pods. Each pod contains 1-3 seeds (the peanuts). There are a few hundred legume species that develop their fruit underground, in a process called geocarpy.
Since the peanut seeds grow below ground level, they have been given the nickname groundnuts or earthnuts. They are also commonly known as grassnuts or goobers. Peanuts are sometimes referred to as “monkeynuts” in Britain, because people sometimes feed peanuts to monkeys at zoos.
Three types of peanuts are commonly grown in South Carolina, which include Virginia, Valencia, and Runner varieties. Several different varieties of each type are available. What kind of plant you choose to grow should depend on the type of soil you have, how long the growing season is, and what you like.
The best type of Virginia peanuts for boiling and roasting are the all-around Virginia peanuts. These large-podded peanuts are sometimes called “ballpark” peanuts. Virginia types produce high yields and have excellent flavor.
Valencia types of chili peppers are often boiled because they have a distinctive flavor, with 3 to 5 seeds per pod, and attractive red seed coats. Valencia peanuts yield less than Virginia types and have smaller kernels.
Runner types have a growth habit that is either prostrate or running. These peanuts have a strong flavor, despite their small size. They contain two medium-sized seeds per pod.
How do I grow peanuts? Peanut plants are easy to take care of and we are sure you will like it!
Sun and Temperature
The peanut plant does best when it receives a lot of sunlight and warmth throughout the season. This likely explains why they are so successful in southern regions. The plants will have the best growth in southern areas that have warm climates.
Ideally, the temperature should be around 85°F. The plant is not tolerant to cold and needs 120 days without frost to grow. If the temperature is above 95°F, the flowers may be damaged, so it is important to provide them with shade.
Water is the most common factor that limits peanut production. There are three important periods for maintaining adequate moisture with peanuts:
- At planting to encourage germination and stand establishment.
- From 60 to 110 days after planting as the pegs enter the soil and the pod begins to develop. Water is most critical at this time.
- Pod filling about 110 days until harvest.
Avoid wetting the leaves when watering. Stop irrigating 10 days to two weeks before harvest.
Prepare a deep, loose seedbed for best results. Any plant debris from the previous crop should be chopped up in the fall. Either compost the debris or till it under and it will lie several inches below the soil surface to break down. Dig a trench that is 8 to 12 inches deep. Break up any clods and smooth the surface. If you plant peanuts after corn in your garden, you will have fewer disease problems. It is best to avoid planting peanuts after beans, peas, or other legume crops if possible.
It is best to test the soil in the fall or early winter. Before planting, work limestone into the soil at the recommended rate, two to three months in advance. Peanuts prefer a soil pH between 5.8 and 6.2. Besides raising the soil pH, lime also supplies calcium. However, if the soil test indicates that the soil is low in calcium, the amount of calcium in the lime may not be adequate for maximum production. If more calcium is needed, agricultural gypsum can be used. Foliar calcium applications are not effective for peanuts. Virginia-type peanuts need more calcium than peanuts with smaller seeds.
A calcium deficiency in peanuts will result in lower quality nuts and an increased risk of pod rot. A sunny day will cause the water in the soils to evaporate, which will then lead to the leaves curling and the plants wilting A deficiency is more likely to occur on sandy soils during a dry period. The sun will cause the water in the soil to evaporate, which will lead to the leaves curling and the plants wilting. A soil test is the best way to determine the fertilizer, lime, and calcium requirements for your plants. You can contact your local Clemson Extension office to get a soil test.
Peanuts are a type of plant known as a legume, which means that they produce their seeds inside a pod. In addition to getting nitrogen from the air, they also get it from bacteria. Rhizobium bacteria live inside nodules on the roots of plants and convert nitrogen from the air into a form that can be used by the plants. To examine the nodules on the roots, you can pinch them in half with your fingernails. Active nodules are pink to bright red inside.
Peanut seeds should be inoculated with a bacterial inoculant specific to peanuts at planting. These inoculants are available at feed and seed stores. If there are yellow-leaved peanut plants in a garden that hasn’t been planted with peanuts in the last four years, it may mean that the bacterial inoculant didn’t work. This text is explaining how to correct a nitrogen deficiency by applying 3-4 pounds of 34-0-0 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.
Residual fertility is when there is still leftover nutrients in the soil from the previous year’s fertilizer application. Peanut plants respond better to this than to fertilizer applied directly in the spring. If possible, plant peanuts after a well fertilized crop.
Peanuts are extremely sensitive to fertilizer burn. Do not apply fertilizer in the furrow with the seed or over the row after planting. This can damage the seed or the young plants. Instead of spreading fertilizer by hand, broadcast it over the ground and incorporate it into the soil.
Although pruning peanuts isn’t required, it may occasionally be necessary. You can cut back the stems if they are getting tangled or crossing the boundaries, especially for runner types. Remove any areas of the plant that are diseased to stop the infection from getting worse.
Peanut plants are only propagated by seed, as they are usually grown as annuals. Harvesting your own peanuts is a great way to save money. Leave them dry, raw, and in their shell. Keep them in a dry place where there is air flow and in a bag made of mesh. Plant peanuts the following spring for best results.
Choose healthy, mature seeds to save. They could pass on any disease to the soil or the next generation. It is better to buy new seed if there is a chance that your soil is diseased.
Although peanut plants are self-pollinating, there is a chance that the next crop may not be exactly the same. You should try to plant only one variety of peanut plant to avoid cross-pollination and the production of hybridized seed.
The process of harvesting peanuts is simple, but it takes a long time. It’s worth it though! If you are patient, you will be able to snack on home-grown seeds soon.
The time required for peanuts to reach optimum maturity is influenced by weather conditions, planting dates, and general plant health. The maturity of the crop should be checked 15 to 20 days before the anticipated harvest date. The average time it takes for green, boiling peanuts to mature is between 90 and 110 days after planting them. Valenica type plants require a shorter growing season than plants of the Virginia type.
Peanuts that are ready to be harvested may be dug out by using a shovel or a fork to loosen the soil around the plants. Lift the plant by the stem, removing any loose soil from the plant and pods. Invert plants with the taproot pointed upwards. Leave pods in the sun for a week so they can partially dry. After the initial drying period, remove all of the pods from the vines. Spread them out in a cool, dry area so they can continue curing for two to three weeks. Do not allow peanuts to get moldy while they are drying in the garden or while they are being stored. Peanuts can be bagged in loosely woven containers and hung in a cool, dry area free of insects and rodents. This is the best way to store them if you want to keep them for a long time without the quality deteriorating.
Peanuts can be eaten raw, though they’re usually cooked. As long as you store them correctly, you can keep them raw in the shell for several months. Otherwise, your hard-earned goobers might grow mold. They need good air circulation, so keep the mesh bag in a dry place. Make sure you put them in a spot where mice can’t get to them.
A popular way to eat peanuts is to roast them. This gives them a tasty flavor. You can roast the seeds by putting them in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350°F. Roasting pistachios with the shell on is possible as long as the shell is completely intact. Just add 5-10 minutes onto the cooking time. They will stay fresh for about 6 months in the fridge and for a whole year in the freezer. You can eat the peanuts plain or in a recipe once they have been roasted.
Weeds, insects, and diseases must be controlled to ensure high yields of high-quality peanuts.
Weeds can be prevented from growing by using a mulch and by planting in rows that are close together so the plants can shade the ground quickly. Hand-weed or carefully hoe or cultivate around the plants. Don’t disturb the soil under the peanut plant’s branches once pegging has started.
Thankfully, peanuts aren’t troublemakers. These plants are not likely to cause any problems.