Peanuts are a delicious, fun snack but did you know you can grow them in your own backyard? While you will need to live in the southern United States to grow this plant, it is very much possible. Learn when to plant peanuts and how to grow and harvest them.
When to plant peanuts: Peanuts have a long growing season although if you live in the United States, it’s best to pick varieties that are on the shorter end of this spectrum, around 100 days. Plant peanuts in the spring, just after the last frost date. They will not be ready until at least September but need to be harvested before the threat of frost.
Planting Peanuts in Different Climates
Peanuts are native to South America so will happily grow in a tropical climate. They like warmth and need access to a long growing season.
Peanuts are grown across the southern United States in areas that have a warm, humid climate. Texas, Oklahoma, and even southern parts of California can grow peanuts.
Growing peanuts in a dry climate may be tricky. Even if you have enough warmth and sunlight, you will still need water, although peanuts do need less water than other nuts, such as almonds.
Unfortunately, a temperate climate does not have warm enough summers for peanuts to grow. Even though the winter is mild, the spring and fall, when peanuts will also need to grow, are too cool to support the plants.
Yes, a continental climate has nice, hot summers, but they are short. With a growing season of over 100 days, there simply isn’t enough time for peanuts to grow.
Peanuts most definitely can’t grow in a polar climate. The summers are far too short and are not warm enough.
Choosing Peanuts Seeds
This is the most popular variety and accounts for more than 80 percent of what is grown in the United States. This is a great option if you want to make peanut butter as they are all even in size, which creates an even roasting environment.
The next most popular option for growing peanuts is the Virginia variety. These peanuts are larger than average and are ideal if you want to eat them, either raw or roasted.
The outsides of this variety of peanuts have red skin, so you may have come across them. They have more specific growing needs and are best suited for areas such as Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. They are ideal for peanut butter and are used in candy.
Long in size, you can expect at least three kernels in each shell of this variety. They are used for peanut butter as they have a lovely, sweet taste to them.
How to Plant Peanuts Seeds
The key to planting peanuts is patience. Not only do they take a long time, but they grow underground so you aren’t always aware of their progress.
Be sure to get your peanuts planted in spring. Aim for two to three weeks after the last frost date.
Then, wait anywhere from 100 to 120 days, depending on the variety, for a September harvest.
As you can see, this long growing period is only doable if you live in an area where you have a long, warm period of time that stretches from spring to fall.
To help your peanut plants thrive in a cooler climate, there are a few tricks to follow. The most important is to try to plant them in an area that has a slight slope that faces south.
This way, the heat of the sun will be on the soil as much as possible. If there is any shade or you miss that afternoon heat, your peanuts won’t grow.
Another option is to start peanuts inside about six to eight weeks before you would normally plant them in your garden. While this is an extra step, it is necessary if you have a shorter growing season.
Finally, to help protect your newly planted peanuts from unexpected spring frosts or dips in temperatures, you should install row covers. With a bit of plastic sheeting, you can make a mini-greenhouse to keep your plants warm until summer comes.
Yes, to grow peanuts you will need peanuts. These should be raw, unseasoned, and still in their shells.
You’ll most likely have to order starter peanuts online as most gardening centers won’t carry them. Don’t use store-bought peanuts as they might not be the right variety for your location.
Shell the peanuts you want to use as these will be your seeds. Place them in your soil about 2 inches deep and space them out by 8 inches.
Aim for soil that is loose and not compact. It’s best to dig the area up before planting as peanuts like to spread out underground.
You should also make sure the soil can drain well. If it is too compacted, add compost and sand to create the right texture.
How to Water Peanuts
Despite liking sunshine and heat, peanut plants also need water. In fact, if they don’t get enough water, this will affect the germination period, meaning a lot of effort for no peanuts.
Aim for an inch of water every week. If there is no rain in the forecast, it means you will need to add that water.
The most important time to water is right after planting. This is crucial to start the germination process and have the plants start to actually grow.
Then, once the parts of the peanut plant that grows into the soil, called the pegs, start to form, you will again need to monitor your watering. This is the period of time when the peanuts are actually starting to form.
How to Grow Peanuts
Loosen the soil
The underground parts of peanuts are called pegs. These are like a mixture of a root and a tuber and will spread out through the ground, eventually producing more peanuts.
This is why loose soil is so important. Even if you have started by digging up your area, you should do so again once the plants are about 6 inches high.
Gently dig around the area where your plants are to allow them to spread out more easily.
One of the many benefits of planting peanuts is that you won’t need to add fertilizer. As long as you have good, solid soil, there will be enough nutrients for your plants.
Furthermore, peanuts will actually fix the nitrogen levels in your soil which is perfect if you want to rotate crops.
Add soil to make a hill
To keep your peanuts insulated underground and to prevent sunlight from penetrating the young plants, you should create hills. If you have experience with growing potatoes, this is a similar process.
Gently move soil around so that it mounds around the leafy part of the peanut plant. Your aim is to cover any exposed roots or pegs with extra dirt.
If you don’t have enough dirt from the area you are currently planting in, you can bring more in from other parts of your garden or purchase new soil.
Look for flowers
A sign that your peanut plants are growing nicely is when you see flowers. These will be small and yellow and can be found on the bottom parts of the stems.
Don’t do anything to the flowers. As they fade, the middle, ovary part of the plant will then grow down toward the soil and push into it.
It is this part of the peanut plant that will turn into the peanuts you eventually eat.
When you plant your peanuts, be sure to be aware of what variety you have and how long the growing period is. Mark this on your calendar so you don’t forget.
If you still aren’t sure if your peanuts are ready, wait until the plants start to turn yellow. However, they need to be harvested before there is any threat of frost.
Once ready, you should dig up the whole peanut plant. Be careful and use a fork so as to not disturb the peanuts.
Shake the plant off to get rid of any excess dirt. Then, hang the whole plant in a cool, dark area for a month to let the peanuts dry.
Finally, you can remove the peanuts from the plant. The choice is now up to you whether you want to eat them raw, roast them, or even make peanut butter from them.
How long do peanuts take to grow?
Peanuts take a long time to grow. The average time is between 100 and 120 days.
As peanuts are native to South America, which has the benefit of similar temperatures year-round, you should choose a variety with a shorter growing period if you are in the United States. Even if you live in southern areas, you will have some sort of winter to contend with.
It’s amazing when you start to think just how peanuts are grown underground. This plant likes sunlight and warmth, so can only be grown in the southern United States. Plant just after the last frost date and harvest in September.