Considering growing peanuts? An interesting and uncommon choice, but not surprising since Americans consume more than 2.4 billion pounds of peanuts every year, and you guessed it, much of it goes into the classic PB & J sandwich.
Growing your own peanuts can be an interesting and rewarding hobby, not to mention delicious!
However, they are not suitable for just any garden, they do need certain conditions for optimal growth. This article will focus on how and if you can grow your very own fresh peanuts that you and your family can enjoy all year long.
Peanuts are native to tropical regions of the Americas. However, in the United States, they are mostly grown in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
There are 4 main types of peanuts.
This type is very popular because of it's uniform kernel size. More than half of it's production is used to make peanut butter. Grown mainly in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma.
These smaller kernels are primarily grown in Oklahoma and Texas and are used mainly as snack nuts. (the ones covered with the brown skin) They have a higher oil content than other varieties.
Virginia kernels are the largest and are processed and roasted in the shell as gourmet peanuts. Grown in southeastern Virginia, northeastern North Carolina and South Carolina.
These sweet tasting peanuts are covered in a bright red skin and usually sold roasted and in the shell. Main production is in New Mexico.
Many sub-species also exist among the four main groups.
Peanuts are in fact, part of the pea family and thus a legume (think beans) rather than a true nut. The peanut plant flowers above the ground, however, the actual nut matures below the surface producing around 40 pods.
They do require a fairly long growing season compared to many common garden crops.
About four to five months are required from planting to harvesting your peanuts, so you'll want to make sure you have enough time in the growing season in your region.
- Peanuts are also known as goobers, goober peas, groundpeas, ground nuts, and earth nuts.
- Peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free,
- 20% of the world's peanut production is used in candy.
- One acre of peanuts will make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.
- Mr. Peanut was created by 13 year-old Antonio Gentile in a logo contest held by Planters in 1916.
- Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter, both farmed peanuts.
It's better to know in advance if peanuts are a viable crop for your garden than to be disappointed by cold weather ruining your produce just before they are prime.
Peanuts do best in light, sandy soil (referred to as loam by gardeners and horticulturists), and require a lot of water to thrive - the equivalent of twenty to forty inches of rain in a growing season. If you live in a relatively dry climate, be prepared to water your peanut plants frequently.
Like many legumes, there is no need to track down seeds at a garden center. Just purchase raw peanuts at any grocery store. (Important: avoid roasted varieties, they will not grow!) Peanuts should be planted one to two inches deep, and spaced about six inches apart. If planting a large quantity of peanuts, remember to space your rows three feet apart to give them plenty of room to spread out underneath the soil.
Given that peanuts are a warm weather crop, make sure not to plant them until all danger of frost has passed - they do not deal well with cold weather, a frost may kill your young peanut plants before they have a chance to even sprout.
If you just can't wait that long however, peanuts may be started indoors ahead of time, as much as a month before the last frost is expected. Peat pots should be used if possible for this to minimize transplant shock. Peanuts like mulched soil , so be sure to work plenty in the area you plan to grow your peanuts.
You'll want to make sure your soil is both soft enough for the peanut plants to push their way into the ground later (peanuts start on pods above ground, then push their way into the soil as they mature) and well drained. If your soil does not provide good drainage, plant your peanuts in raised mounds to ensure drainage.
And last, but not least, anyone can grow their own peanut plant indoors anytime of the year for ornamental purposes. These more than likely won't sprout any peanuts but will certainly make an interesting addition to any home. (Remember, this is not a house plant, it will wither with time!) It's also a great plant to start with your kids! As a matter of fact, I think I will grow one with my children and post the pictures here in the future. Should be lots of fun!
How You Can Grow A Peanut Plant
Raw peanuts (purchase from the grocery store - not roasted!)
Flower pot or container with drainage hole (6-8 inches in diameter)
Sandy or sandy loamy soil
Soak peanuts in water overnight
Fill pot with soil to one inch below rim
Plant three peanuts 1 to 1.5 inches deep and cover firmly with soil but do not pack
Keep soil moist and maintain a temperature of 65 degrees F or above. Peanuts should sprout within five to eight days. Keep plant in a warm location exposed to direct sunlight as much as possible. Blooms will likely appear approximately 45 days after the peanut plant has emerged.
Growing Your Own Peanuts
From Ground to Plate
Hopefully this brief article has given you the information you need to begin growing your own peanuts in the garden, and gotten you excited about the prospect. Happy gardening!
If you are unsure about any of the details here, your local university generally has an extension which can provide you with more than enough information to start your own little plantation.
- The Peanut Industry
The American Peanut Council is the only U.S. organization which represents all segments of the peanut industry, including Growers, Shellers, Manufacturers, Brokers, International companies, and more.
- Peanut Country, U.S.A. | National Peanut Board
- Jimmy Carter Peanut, Plains, Georgia
One of the oddest memorials to an American president -- a big, grinning goober outside of a mini-mart in Jimmy Carter's hometown.
© 2008 chantelg4