It’s that time again when the peanut blossoms take center stage. Gorgeous and delicate, these sweet yellow beauties are the sign of good things to come. Below the bright green leaves the spindly legs–better known as “pegs”–bend down in search of soft dirt whereby they bury themselves for the process of forming their peanuts. Like carrots, they prefer loose soil (makes it easier to reach down and form nice full shells). At this point, you can mulch around their base, much like you do for your potatoes. Or till them–they LOVE soft soil.
Why? Because peanuts grow underground and need soft soil as they drop their pegs — read peanut developing roots — and they can’t do this if the surrounding soil is too hard.
Tilling is a must.
If you’ve never grown peanuts for yourself, you should. Kids love peanut butter and it’s a recipe they’ll enjoy making at home, not to mention hubby may appreciate the boiled or roasted version–they mesh quite well with a frosty mug of sudsy beer. When planting your peanuts, be sure to include rich organic compost and/or composted manure. And throw in a hand-full of crushed eggshells. These nuts really like the calcium kick! These are Valencia peanuts which grow well here in Florida and are perfect for boiling.
About two months after bloom, lightly dig down around one of your plants to check their progress–you can use a fork to lift the pegs from the dirt. A ripe peanut will feel firm, its outer shell somewhat dry and “papery.” Once ready, gently pull entire plant from the soil, shake off the excess dirt and lay on a screen in the sun for 2-3 days before shelling. to cure. This is for the purpose of longer storage. If you’re boiling your peanuts, you want them green. Do not attempt to boil roasted peanuts. They’ve already been cooked!
If you do plan to store your freshly harvested peanuts, place them in a warm dry location for about 2-3 weeks. If you’re peanuts have already dried out and you get a craving for boiled peanuts, you’re in luck! By soaking dried nuts for 24 hours you can “re-hydrate” them prior to the boiling process. Check my recipe section for details.