Peanuts are easy and fun. Not only do they mature through the summer season, they take their time doing so–while YOU go on vacation! Simply plant these gems Yep, plant in May and check back in August/September to reap your bounty!
Okay, just kidding. You don’t want to leave anything alone that long–except maybe your laundry chores–because who knows what could pay your garden a visit in the meantime? And I’m not kidding. I planted my peanuts last weekend only to stroll along the beds during the week to discover this.
I did not remove those sprouts from the dirt. Some friendly “visitor” did. Not sure if it’s a squirrel or raccoon, but whoever it was likes peanuts but not the sprouts. I’m leaning toward the “bad boy” squirrel and his pals. Not happy with those varmints.
Other than theft, peanuts are easy and trouble-free. Not prone to insects or disease, they are pretty tolerant and gardening with me–plants need to be tough. I vacation! I write! I have other things to do! (Don’t we all?)
That said, the optimum practice is to “visit” your garden on a daily basis. Not “work” or “weed” or “water” but simply visit. (Remember those beastly hornworms? Discovered them during one of my morning visits. The leafless stems gave them away.)
Outside of critters, strolling through the garden is relaxing, rewarding, soothing to the soul. And peanuts won’t mind if you skip a day or two. Trust me, when June hits, the kids and I skee-daddle from the garden! (It’s the only way I can keep them motivated during the school year. :))
The key to growing peanuts is soft soil, because like potatoes and carrots, peanuts grow underground. One thing to be mindful of when planting your peanuts, is that these little guys like their calcium (probably why they’re so yummy with milk!), so be sure to check your soil for calcium levels, or go ahead and add some eggshells for good measure. Don’t worry if you don’t see sprouts right away. Peanuts can take up to two weeks to sprout.
Once they bloom–about 30-40 days after germination–they’ll start dropping “pegs” into the soil where the peanuts will develop. Once this happens, you’ll want to mulch with a layer of hay or straw. You can also cover with an added layer of loose soil. Just keep it loose and easy they’ll be happy.
The kids and I planted the Valencia variety because it takes well to Florida growing conditions. You can also grow Spanish, Virginia and Runner. The latter two are low, bushy plants which have two large seeds per pod. Spanish (best choice for cooler regions) and Valencia are more erect and have smaller seeds.
Once you’re ready to harvest, test for ripeness by lifting plant with a garden fork. A ripe peanut will feel firm, with dry papery outer skin. When ready, gently remove entire plant from the soil and allow to dry in the sun for about 2-3 days, then remove peanuts from the plants and allow to fully dry in a warm dry location for about 2 – 3 weeks. This curing process will ensure better storage.
Next up, eat them! Roast your peanuts, make peanut butter or try our Southern Boiled Peanuts recipe. Either way you like them, peanuts are a wonderfully healthy snack. Enjoy!
Caution: don’t eat your peanuts straight from the ground as they contain a mild toxin that will upset your belly. Cure them first. Also, if your peanuts get moldy, do not eat them. The aspergillus fungus can grow in moist conditions, and produces aflatoxin which is toxic in humans.