Have you ever thought of growing peanuts in your home garden? Though peanuts belong to the nut family, they are fairly unique among the nuts since they grow underground and are not produced by large plants.
In fact, they are not nuts as such, but essentially legumes. When roasted on their own, they make a very popular snack food that is liked by very many people.
Peanuts are relatively easy to grow, and if you have ever grown potatoes, you will find the process almost similar, with just slight variations.
Normally, there are two types of peanut plants: one that grows upright and the other one as a runner. The upright bush type is the most preferred since it’s easier to harvest. The upright has several varieties such as the Virginia, the Spanish peanuts, and the Valencia. The Valencia has the shortest growing period taking less than 100 days to mature. On the other hand, the Virginia varieties take relatively longer period of up to 150 days, but they are preferred since they yield large peanuts, with 2 kernels in each shell. The Spanish peanuts are smaller than the Virginia peanuts, occurring in triple per shell.
The Peanut Growing Process
1. Start from seed
The seeds to be used for this purpose should be raw, with redskins and unbroken. Germination is enhanced when the seeds planted are shelled. Otherwise, they take too long to germinate, or they dry out and totally fail to germinate. Since peanuts take long, you may want to first germinate them indoors. However, one is advised to use paper pots to reduce the roots’ shock during transplanting as peanuts are fairly delicate.
2. Transplanting the Growing Peanuts
2 or 3 seeds should be planted 2 inches deep at each spot, with intervals of 10 inches between the spots. Lightly cover them with soil. For soil fertilization, peanuts are known to work best with residual fertilization that had been applied prior to planting.
Loose, sandy and well-drained soil is the best for peanuts. And despite the fact that they need a lot of water, water-soaked soil will prevent germination and hence kill the young seedlings.
3. Pests and Disease Control
There are no specific pests that are associated with growing peanuts; however, any insect that eats leaves can be hazardous. Such include the cutworms and cucumber beetles. To control them, spray the leaves with pyrethrin-based chemicals to keep them off. Other pests include squirrels, mice, and rats that actually dig up the peanuts. They can be prevented using physical means.
4. Harvesting the Peanuts
Once they are ready, the peanuts will begin to yellow and wilt. Pull out the plant, and let the peanuts cure for a few days. After that, pull the peanuts from the plants and dry them, after which they will be ready for use. Growing peanuts can be done on a commercial or subsistence scale. The various uses include roasting them, making peanut butter, and so on.