Peanuts are often considered a nearly perfect crop for beginning gardeners. They do not need excessive care or a specialize soil to flourish. Mastering just a few basic steps is often all that is required to harvest a banner crop of peanuts, even when planted in a northern climate.
It takes approximately 100 to 130 days for peanuts to grow. The Early Spanish variety of peanuts has often been found to be the most durable in northern regions of the country. During their growing season, the peanuts must never be exposed to frost.
Starting the peanut crop indoors and being prepared to bring the potted plants back inside come early fall, is essential to a successful harvest. Place the plant, whether potted or started straight into the soil, on a southern facing section of the garden or home. Adding cover crops nearby may help prevent the peanuts from getting too chilled during the morning hours of early spring.
Peanuts are not actually nuts at all. They are seeds from a leguminous plant in the peas and beans family. Homesteading families and preppers often grow peanuts as a shelf-stable form of protein for their families and as part of their overall disaster preparedness plan.
Top 15 Peanut Planting Tips
- To start peanuts indoors, plant raw nuts in a deep planter. Fill the bowl about two-thirds of the way full with moist potting soil. Plant the peanuts about four inches deep in the planter. In a standard size garden container, do not plant more than four peanuts to ensure they get all the nutrients they need from the soil and have room to grow.
- When starting a peanut crop indoors, covering the top of the planter with a breathable fabric or wrap may yield the best results. Do not replant the peanuts until they have visible sprouts. It will take about five to eight weeks for sprouts to develop.
- If starting the peanuts outdoors, plant the seeds about two inches deep in some loose soil. The nut seeds should be planted about eight inches apart.
- They should also be planted in a well-drained sandy soil, Gardening Know How advises. Soil which is too tight and not well drained will cause the peanuts to struggle during their growth cycle and either wither and die or not reach their full potential.
- Once the peanuts have reached approximately six inches tall, it is time for cultivating (loosening the soil around plants) the crop. Peanuts form at the surface of the ground, making the cultivation process far less difficult than when caring for crops which grow deep in the soil, the Old Farmer’s Almanac notes.
- Use a careful and light touch during cultivation. Disturbing the soil too much or going too deep into the dirt could ruin an otherwise viable harvest.
- The next stage in the growing process is called “hilling.” Push loose soil around the growing peanuts and craft it into a firm, but not too tightly packed, hill shape. Mulch around the peanut plants with grass clippings or mulch. The mulch should be about two inches tall and serves to insulate the hill to keep moisture in and protect the roots of the plant.
- If all steps have been completed properly and the weather has cooperated, small yellow flowers will appear on the stem of the peanut plants. The flowers will then blossom and bloom.
- Once the yellow flowers dry up, ovary shaped growth will form, fall over, and ultimately tunnel back into the dirt. The ovary shapes are the beginning formations of the peanuts.
- Peanuts need to be watered regularly to ensure the soil is damp down to about eight inches below the surface.
- Stick your finger into the ground near the base of the plant weekly to make sure the soil is properly moist.
- Add more mulch around the peanut plants as they grow to ensure the moisture level created by watering remains at an optimal level. Mulch also helps prevent the growth of weeks, making less gardening maintenance work throughout the growing season.
- The peanuts are ready to harvest after the nuts are visible and the entire plant has turned yellow or has a distinct yellow cast to its stem and leaves.
- To harvest peanuts, carefully pull up the entire plant with a garden fork.
- Hang the peanut plants upside down so they dry thoroughly. The drying process takes about 30 days. Hold off eating any of the peanuts or using them in recipes until they have been allowed to dry completely.
It takes about 540 peanuts to make a single 12-ounce jar of peanut butter. Peanuts can be eaten raw, or roasted — either shelled or unshelled, in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
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