Growing Peanuts: Nuts You Will Really Dig

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Try growing peanuts in your garden! Often thought of as just a snack to be munched on at ball games or passed around at cocktail parties, peanuts are actually a healthful and nutritious food.

Whether eaten raw or roasted or spread on bread, peanuts are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals; have no cholesterol; and contain more protein than many meats.

The Peanut Plant

People often are surprised to find out that peanuts are not nuts but instead are actually seeds from a leguminous plant related to peas and beans. (See our plant guides for more about growing peas and beans.)

The plant is unique because its flowers grow aboveground yet the pods containing the seeds develop in the soil.

The yellow, pealike blossoms are self-pollinating. Once fertilized, the delicate petals fall away. The stalks (called pegs) just under the ovaries then elongate and bend toward the earth, growing into the soil. When underground, the ovary at the tip of each stalk enlarges to form a peanut pod.

peanuts

Growing Peanuts

Although considered a southern warm-weather crop, peanuts have been grown as far north as southern Canada.

  • Peanuts have a long growing season (ranging from 100 to 130 frost-free days); they're planted a few weeks after the average last frost date in the spring and often dug up anytime after the first of September.
  • The trick to raising them in the North is to choose an early-maturing variety such as "Early Spanish" (100 days) and plant on a south-facing slope, if possible. You could also get a head start to the season by sowing peanuts indoors 5 to 8 weeks before transplanting outside.
  • It's important to select a site that receives full Sun.
  • Plastic row covers are recommended to protect the young plants from spring frosts.
  • To grow peanuts, you will actually start with the the shells of fresh, unroasted peanuts.
  • To start inside, fill a large, four-inch-deep plastic bowl 2/3 full of moist potting soil. Shell four peanuts and place them on top of the soil; then cover with one inch of soil. Plants will sprout quickly. Transplant seedlings outside.
  • To plant outside, place the peanut seeds two inches deep and eight inches apart in loose, well-drained soil. (Add sand and aged compost to soil to loosen.)
  • When the plants are six inches high, cultivate around them to loosen the soil so that the pegs will penetrate it easily.
  • Then, hill them as you would potatoes and mulch with two inches of straw or grass clippings.
  • Small, yellow, pea-like flowers will develop along the lower part of the stem. After the flowers fade, the ovaries will swell, start to grow toward the ground, and then push into the soil.
  • Peanuts are harvested before frost when the plant yellows.
  • Dig out the entire plant with a spading fork, carefully shake off most of the soil, and then hang to dry indoors for about a month.
  • The "nut" can be enjoyed raw or roasted to perfection by baking shelled or unshelled in a 350° F oven for 20 minutes.

Did You Know: It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.

Peanuts are thought to have originated in South America, where Peruvian Indians cultivated them at least 3,500 years ago. Besides valuing peanuts as food, the Peruvians considered them a status symbol and even used them as money—which isn't surprising when you consider how many of us still think that we are working for peanuts.

Ever wondered where popcorn comes from? It's also a seed plant! See our growing tips for popcorn.

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Comments

Good Day, we like to grow

By Pidrus

Good Day,

we like to grow Peanut in Germany.
We have 150-180 frost free Days.
Can you give us infos to buy Penautseed

Thanks for your Time

God bless you

Pidrus

I am thinking of planting

By Tori Nelson

I am thinking of planting peanut plants in my garden. I noticed while tilling the soil that the soil is really rocky. Will this effect the growing process of the peanuts?

Peanuts do best in sandy,

By Almanac Staff

Peanuts do best in sandy, loam soil. Rocky or heavy soil can be a problem for the pegs to burrow into. Try to remove as much rocks as possible, and prepare the soil so that it is loose and crumbly. Or, you might consider using raised beds.

More info on 90 day varieties

By Janet Briggs

More info on 90 day varieties and where to get them please. The sooner the better...I am preparing the planting bed today!

I wish to ask if peanuts can

By Ghislain

I wish to ask if peanuts can be transplanted?Thanks and good day.

We've never done it, but why

By Almanac Staff

We've never done it, but why not. Transplant your peanut starts into sandy soil about 4 inches apart.

How deep do the peanuts grow

By Jason Casteel

How deep do the peanuts grow into the ground? I know they only start about an inch, but the nuts themselves; how deep of soil do they need? I have some nice little starts growing indoors, but I will need to re pot them soon, as last frost is not for a month or more here in zone 5. Indoors, I can control temp, humidity, and light much better.

Plant seeds 2 to 3 inches

By Almanac Staff

Plant seeds 2 to 3 inches deep in light textured sandy soils and 1½ to 2 inches deep in clay soils. Germination is best when the soil is a warm temperature between 68 and 95 °F.
It's good you've started early; keep in mind that peanuts often need over 100 days to reach maturity. Make sure that you leave enough time.

Yes, I have already planted

By Jason Nesquik

Yes, I have already planted them and they are doing great. I was asking how deep all together the soil needs to be. With peanuts; there are tendrils or branches that grow into the ground off of the main stem and the peanuts themselves grow under the dirt on those digging tendrils. I am needing to know how deep THOSE dig into the ground so I know how deep of a container to use. Thanks Much.

How deep the roots grow

By Almanac Staff

How deep the roots grow depends on the variety of peanuts. In light sandy soil they can grow several feet deep. Use wide and 1-2 feet deep pots. Good luck!

Sounds Great. Thanks Much. :)

By Jason Nesquik

Sounds Great. Thanks Much.
:)

how much distance we should

By mariam

how much distance we should give them betweem them

Sow peanut seeds 1 to 1 1/2

By Almanac Staff

Sow peanut seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart. Row spacing for bunch types should be 24 inches and 36 inches for runner types.

What depth do the chutes dig

By Jason Nesquik

What depth do the chutes dig in the ground when growing the nuts?

Peanuts have an extensive

By Almanac Staff

Peanuts have an extensive root system. How deep the roots grow depends on the variety of peanuts. In light sandy soil they can grow several feet deep. Peanuts prefer a loose, well-draining, well-tilled soil. Sandy soil mixed with compost works well. If your soil is hard, add some mulch and sand. Or, if your soil does not drain well, you could slightly elevate or mound the rows.

When hanging peanuts indoors

By Tom MN

When hanging peanuts indoors to dry, are you suppose to hang them by the greens or by the roots?

To hang the peanuts to dry,

By Almanac Staff

To hang the peanuts to dry, lift the entire plant and hang it in the garage for a week or so. After shaking off excess soil, just hang them by twine. The important thing is that the plants are upside down. Many gardeners first pick the peanuts off the plant and air dry them in a warm, well-ventilated room.

i picked my peanuts off the

By Susan Vogel

i picked my peanuts off the vine first.. now what do i need to do?

After being harvested, why do

By Sharon GA

After being harvested, why do peanuts need to be left on the plant to dried?
Will anything adverse happen to the peanuts if they have been picked off from the plant before they have been dried?

I'm not a peanut farmer, but

By Bill Roebuck on September 10

I'm not a peanut farmer, but grew up on a farm in Alabama. My dad grew a small patch every year just for the family. The reason the nuts should be dried still on the roots is because when harvested they are damp. If you break them off and pile them in a bucket where they touch and can't breath they will rot before they dry.

There are 90 day varieties

By Michael Greer

There are 90 day varieties being grown in Ontario. The American peanut industry, based in Georgia and Texas, don't want you to know this, and these short-season varieties are not available for import into the US. You'll have to smuggle your own.

I am in central Illinois and

By Janet Briggs

I am in central Illinois and am interested in more info on the 90 day varieties. I have friends coming next week from Toronto and may ask them to bring some, if I have info on where to tell them to get them. I am preparing a bed for them now and was planning on planting some raw peanuts I bought at Walmart. Would much prefer to go the 90 day route and not worry so about growing season and seed quality/variety. Thanks!

Can you plant potatoes and

By Sampson

Can you plant potatoes and peanuts together?

If I plant them on the first

By Micah g Bennett

If I plant them on the first week of June will the produce

Boiling peanuts need at least

By Almanac Staff

Boiling peanuts need at least 90 to 100 days to reach maturity. Dry peanuts need about 140 days. Plant anytime between April and late June; however, planting after June 1 will not allow enough time for dry peanuts to reach maturity. The ideal time for planting peanuts is the first week of May when the soil is warm and moist. Germination is best between 68 and 95 °F.

Thank you for the tip on

By Laark

Thank you for the tip on growing peanuts. My plants are doing well. One question I have...after harvest how do I keep seeds for the next planting season?

Thank you

The peanut seed is the peanut

By Almanac Staff

The peanut seed is the peanut itself. Some folks prefer to leave the peanuts in their shells so that they stay protected. Others say peanuts store best by washing them, drying them, shelling them, then storing them in a glass container in the freezer.
Whatever you do, they must stay very dry (down to 4 or 5 percent moisture) and not at room temp or weevils will destroy them. If dry, they can store for many years.

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