By Jennifer Poindexter
Have you ever considered growing your own peanuts? If you enjoy freshly roasted peanuts or homemade peanut butter, this plant might deserve your consideration.
However, growing your own peanuts isn’t as simple as making the decision to grow them and throwing a few nuts in the ground.
In fact, there are different varieties you must first choose from. Once you understand your options, the actual growing process is simple.
Here are some options for growing peanuts in your home garden and how you can go about growing them:
Why Grow Peanuts in the Home Garden?
People have various reasons for growing peanuts in their home garden. One reason is to enjoy fresh goods from this product.
When you grow fresh peanuts, you can make homemade peanut butter, enjoy the peanuts for snacking, use the fresh nuts in candy, or boil them for a true Southern treat.
If you’ve ever made a road trip through the South, you know that it’s typical to see peanut road-side stands.
As a kid, we stopped at these stands a lot because there is a distinct difference in freshly grown peanuts (and the snacks made with them) from what you purchase at the store.
If you’d like to enjoy fresh peanuts any time you’d like, consider adding this plant to your garden plot.
How Do Peanuts Grow?
If you’ve never grown peanuts before, you may not understand how these plants work. This is important, so you know what to expect.
Peanuts aren’t nuts at all; they’re legumes. Each plant will form yellow blooms. The plants are self-pollinating, so once the blooms drop from the plant, you know they have completed the pollination process.
Where the blooms were, stalks begin to grow. They’ll grow into the ground and spread out if they’re a running variety. (We’ll discuss the different types of peanuts a little later.)
At the end of the stalk, round bulbs (called ovaries) begin to form. These ovaries are where peanut pods form beneath the soil.
As your peanut plants grow, it’s similar to a potato. You won’t know the size of the harvest you have until you dig the plant up at the end of the season.
However, just as with a potato, you’ll know when it’s time to harvest based upon the portion of the plant that’s above ground.
Now that you understand a little more about peanut plants, let’s talk about varieties available for you to grow in your home garden.
Varieties of Peanuts to Grow in the Home Garden
There are five main types of peanuts grown in the United States. I’m going to walk you through each type and tell you about a few varieties which fall under these main headings.
Here are peanut varieties you can choose to add to your home garden:
1. Runner Peanuts
The most common type of peanut grown in the United States is the runner peanut. They make up about 80% of all peanuts grown in the country.
Runner peanuts are typically grown in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. They are also mostly used for making peanut butter.
This style of peanut plant can take anywhere from 130 to 150 days to reach maturity.
Should you grow peanuts with the intention of mainly using them for peanut butter, consider the following varieties:
· Georgia Runner
· Southern Runner
2. Virginia Peanut
The next type of peanut grown in the United States is the Virginia peanut. This type of peanut makes up approximately 15% of all peanuts produced in the United States.
These nuts are commonly grown in Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. This style of peanut plant produces larger peanuts.
Therefore, making this harvest best for snacking peanuts or for making chunkier homemade peanut butter.
Should you choose to use these peanuts for boiling you can harvest them in 90 to 110 days. If you’d like to dry roast them, they’ll take between 130 to 150 days to reach harvest.
If you’re interested in this type of peanut plant, consider the following varieties:
· Florida Fancy
3. Spanish Peanut
Our next type of peanut is the Spanish peanut. In the United States, this type of peanut only makes up about 4% of all types of peanuts grown.
You will find Spanish peanuts, most commonly, in Oklahoma and Texas. This style of peanut is hard to miss due to its bright red skin.
It’s typically used for making peanut butter but is also used when making candy. Spanish peanuts take between 105 to 115 days to reach harvest.
If you’re interested in growing this style of peanut, here are a few varieties to choose from:
· Tamspan 90
4. Valencia Peanut
Our final type of peanut is the Valencia peanut. It only makes up 1% of the peanut plants produced in America.
These are typically grown in New Mexico and have a sweeter flavor profile. They’re most commonly used to make peanut butter or boiled peanuts.
If you’re interested in growing a variety of this type of peanut, Tennessee Reds are a great place to begin.
Each of these peanuts have a location where they’re typically grown. However, with adequate planning and utilizing different gardening methods, peanuts can be grown anywhere from planting zones one through eleven.
Now that you know some of the most common varieties of each type of peanut, let’s discuss a few more options to help you decide which style of peanut plant is best for your home garden.
The Two Main Types of Peanuts
If you’ve ever researched peanut plants, you might be confused how the peanuts are broken down above in comparison to what you see on the internet.
Many internet searches tell you there’s only two types of peanuts. This is true, but it’s all about how you categorize your peanut plants.
I want to explain this to you to ensure you have all the information necessary to make the best decision for your garden space.
Peanuts can be broken down as demonstrated above, but you may also simplify things by only dividing them into two main types.
These two types are runner peanuts and bunch peanuts. The difference is runners sprawl out and have peanuts which grow all along the stalks which spread beneath the ground.
With bunch peanuts, the plant tends to remain compact, and all the peanuts produce together in a “bunch.”
Runner peanuts tend to produce a greater harvest. However, bunch peanuts are a good option for more compact growing spaces.
You should provide two feet of space between each plant of a bunch variety, but runner peanuts will need three feet of space between each plant.
The most common variety of runner peanuts is the Florunner. The most common varieties of bunching peanuts are Spanish, Virginia Improved, or Jumbo Virginia.
Hopefully, you can use the information in both this section and the previous section to decide how much room you have for a specific type of peanut.
Should you choose a bunching peanut, it’s wise to review the different uses and flavor profiles of each variety to ensure you plant what’s right for you.
How to Grow Peanuts
Now that we’ve discussed different varieties, classifications, and uses of peanuts, I must include a brief overview of how to grow this plant.
No matter the variety, they’re all grown pretty much the same. I think having a brief understanding of how peanuts grow is vital, especially for the beginner gardener.
My first year of gardening, I wanted to grow everything. Peanuts were included in this. I had no idea how a peanut plant grew nor what I should expect.
Imagine my surprise when I didn’t plant enough to have much of a harvest, and I didn’t really know what to do with the harvest once I had it.
The main things peanuts need are full sunlight and loose, well-draining soil. This crop requires at least 100 days to reach harvest. Some varieties require more, as mentioned above.
If you live in a cooler climate, you can plant varieties which produce faster or start your seeds indoors two months before your final frost date.
Wait until all frost is over before transplanting your previously started peanut plants or the peanuts themselves (if you’re starting from seed).
Should you start peanuts from seed, you may plant peanuts that are fresh, uncooked, and shelled. Ensure you plant the peanuts approximately two inches beneath the soil.
Leave one foot of space between each plant as you wait for them to sprout. Once sprouted, thin the plants to the appropriate spacing.
When thinning, or if you’re transplanting previously started peanut plants, space your plants out by their variety.
For instance, if you’re planting runners, leave three feet of space between each plant. If you’re planting bunching peanuts, leave two feet of space between them.
Wait until your plants are approximately six inches tall, then cultivate the ground around them. This will make it easier for the plants to dig into the soil to begin producing peanuts.
You won’t need to fertilize peanut plants as they’re nitrogen fixers, and they’re relatively low-maintenance as well.
Once the plant turns yellow, and the first frost of the year is coming, it’s time to harvest the peanuts. Dig them up out of the ground, shake the loose soil from the peanuts, and allow your harvest to dry for one month.
After this month has passed, you may enjoy them fresh, roasted, or in a variety of candy or peanut butter recipes.
Ensure you plant enough peanuts to have an appropriate sized harvest to meet your goals. You’ll need about a dozen plants per person in your household and each plant can produce anywhere from twenty-five to fifty peanuts.
You now have plenty of information to begin the growing process for peanuts. We have covered the different varieties and classifications of this plant.
Hopefully, this information has prepared you to understand how large of a garden plot you’ll need to successfully grow peanuts, and you have an idea of which variety and flavor profile will best suit your needs.
Best of luck to you on this new gardening journey. Peanuts may require some creativity for your planting zone, but having fresh peanuts any time you wish is quite the treat!