Hey again! SO we are into winter very officially….but the best part is NO SNOW! This may be my favorite winter yet! But since we are in winter and not much is growing, I thought I would do a throw back post that should have been done this fall about PEANUTS!
We have grown peanuts two years in a row now and have gone through quite the learning curve. We decided to grow peanuts because my husband was looking for a nitrogen fixer that he is a fan of, and apparently peanuts were the answer. He started researching how to grow peanuts and if we could in our zone (5). We determined that we could grow peanuts, but we would have to start them inside, due to their days to maturity. The peanuts are started from seed just like a tomato: same date seed planted, water needs, light needs, and temperature needs. The only difference really is the size of the seed, so you need to plant them 1-2 seed lengths down and in a larger container.
After our research, we started by purchasing peanuts from our local feed store in the bird feeding area (they are the peanuts used to feed squirrels). This is a peanut that is not processed in any way and is also technically not a food grade because the shells are broken open, but we don’t need the shell anyways, so this was a perfect and inexpensive option. When we got the seeds home, we removed the nut from the shell and kept the skins on the nut(if possible). Then we used larger trays to plant the seeds in, as the peanuts like their roots to not be disrupted too much (we quickly learned disrupting peanut roots is not too big of a deal). When we started growing them in 2014, we learned that peanuts have a mind of their own as to whether they will grow the proper way, so sometimes the peanuts need to be “flipped” because you will notice a root, instead of leaves, and that it is obviously upside down.
Once we realized we could disrupt the roots a bit, we started them in smaller trays to grow more and get a nice amount germinated. In the picture below you can see some plants that are nice and leafy, and some that have a weird small white part sticking up (yep that is a root), we flipped those babies, and eventually transplanted these peanuts to the next size up container.
Once our peanuts were all grown nice and big, and the weather would start cooperating (aka it is time for your tomatoes to be hardened off), we started to harden off the peanuts, and eventually planted them outside.
We had nicely planted ours outside in 2014 and a few days later learned that most of our plants were demolished. Squirrels had decided to help themselves to the nut (the original seed) on the underside of the plant, uprooting all of our plants, and leaving a ton to die. Luckily, we were able to plop those plants right back in the ground and they continued to grow (a little stunted for sure, but at least we got a small harvest still). To keep this from happening in 2015, we put our trusty fake owl and scarecrow on rotating duty, watching over the peanuts. This worked fabulously and the peanuts grew!
Once the peanuts are off and growing they will put on flowers (see pic above), which then get pollinated, and put down what is known as “pegs” (see pics below). Each peg then fruits and turns into peanuts. Some people say you need to help the peanut to peg…we have not found that. Our peanuts may be SUPERIOR peanuts, as they peg just fine! I assume that God designed them in such a way they know how to reproduce and so far they are proving to be effective at it!
The last part of growing peanuts is the most rewarding…harvest! You want to harvest when the leaves of the plant start to die back (turning yellow)…each year we have seemed to harvest late (fail!) but 2016 we will do better. Here is a link to me harvesting and babbling about peanuts on video. The first year, we pulled each peanut off of the plants as we pulled them, but later found that it is actually better to hang the plants to dry. This gives a nice finish to the peanuts and you can later pull them from the plants, and roast or do whatever you want with them!
Wow that is a lot about peanuts! If you read all this way, I am sure you will definitely enjoy growing peanuts next year and I can’t wait to see your wonderful peanut pictures! Hopefully, our mistakes we made over these two years will help you to grow the best looking, most productive, and yummiest peanuts around! If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave them on this post or our Facebook page!