Grow Peanuts at Home
This spring strange circumstances have allowed my husband to be home instead of traveling as usual. We -mostly he- have taken advantage of the time to build several raised bed garden boxes and are in the process of getting them all planted.
One morning a few short weeks ago we were watching Oklahoma Gardening and they had a segment on growing peanuts in a home garden and we thought, “Hey, let’s try that!” I immediately started searching my plant catalogs and online seed sources for peanut seeds. I found them either completely sold out (guess why) or with extremely long shipping delays (so it would be too late to plant them). I couldn’t source any locally either. There are some really neat looking peanut varieties available that I would love to try, maybe next year. Some people on the internet claimed to have planted raw grocery store or pet store peanuts with success. I thought that might be a good option if I could find some, then forgot all about it. A couple of days later at our little local grocery store, lo and behold, they had bags of peanuts in the shell in the produce section, and they even had raw ones! I snatched a bag and figured if they didn’t grow we could certainly roast and eat the rest of the bag. We love peanuts.
Now the short video segment from Oklahoma Gardening I have linked to here is full of helpful information. One thing you must consider is what kind of peanut to plant for your growing season. If you are north you will need to plant Spanish peanuts (the little bitty ones) since they will mature in a shorter time frame than the big Virginia peanuts. Check with your local gardening experts (plug for county extension offices/Master Gardeners here) and they will help you out. Here in Oklahoma I think we have a long enough season for the jumbo Virginia peanuts, which is good since that’s what they had at the store. OH if you do end up getting your seed peanuts at a store be sure they are IN THE SHELL. Remove it carefully right before planting; or leave it on but expect sprouting to be a bit slower. You must leave the papery covering on the actual peanut intact for the seed to sprout. At least that’s what I have read, and what I did.
I hoped the peanuts we planted would actually sprout but wasn’t 100 percent sure they would. This meant every day, twice a day, I was out there carefully lifting the sheet –oh the sheet. So the day after I planted the peanuts in their two little rows in the raised bed box, I was walking our precious little dog Oatmeal and we went right by the garden area. Suddenly I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, and then heard something bounding away through the yard. I just managed to see a squirrel racing away at top speed. Our Oatmeal barks and sniffs at so many things. But is apparently oblivious to actual prey type animals that are literally three. feet. away. DIGGING UP THE FRESHLY PLANTED PEANUTS!!!!! In the helpful video it is recommended that you cover with floating row cover to avoid situations like this with squirrels. We rarely have squirrels in our yard as we are surrounded by a mile of field and pastures, and houses with few trees. This one must have an epic nose. Anyway, I saw the little squirrel prints in the dirt and so replanted a few peanuts he may have gotten. Found a sheet and secured with some bricks (wind is a major issue here). Back to me, lifting the sheet twice or three times a day to see if anything was growing. I planted April 21st and checked, and checked, and checked…on May 3 I found PEANUT SIGN!!!! Actually a rather impressive sprout I wasn’t expecting. I was looking for something like a bean sprout but instead an accordion-folded clump of leaves had popped up. Woo hoo! Now we see more popping out daily; some of the peanuts heave the soil open before the sprout comes out, one peanut rose up like a Tremors sandworm, pushed by its root. They are already lots of fun to watch. At least for me.
Peanuts are a legume (which is why I expected a bean sprout type of thing to grow) with a fascinating growth habit that requires well-drained soil and adequate heat and moisture. After they bloom, a little structure called a peg remains after the flower withers, and actually grows downward into the soil and that is what forms the peanut. This means no mulching since you need dirt piled around the base of the plant so they can get into the soil. If not, no peanut crop. Growing a plant in a big jar so you can see the root system and peanuts forming would be really neat. Maybe one of the UTZ cheese ball containers. Free Science Fair project idea for your littles!
So far what we have are several sprouts. I will have to thin them since I planted two at a time about 8 inches apart. One of each pair will have to go.
Once they are a couple inches high I can take off the sheet, then just have to keep watered for the 120 frost-free days it takes them to reach harvest stage. If we are lucky we can then dig them, hang them to dry for a few days, then roast them up for a tasty snack.
I will update progress, or lack thereof, in future.