Peanuts are an American favorite and a popular snack food. Peanuts are eaten as whole, salted nuts, are mashed into peanut butter, and are a common ingredient in many types of candy.
The peanut is a tender annual belonging to the pea family. It grows 6 inches to 2 feet tall, depending on type. The bunch type grows upright; the runner type spreads out over the ground. Small clusters of yellow, sweet pea-like flowers grow on stems called pegs. The pegs grow down and push into the soil, and the nuts develop 1 to 3 inches under ground from the pegs.
Peanuts are not grown commercially north of Washington, D.C., but they can be grown farther north for fun.
Common Name: Peanut
Scientific Name: Arachis hypogaca
Hardiness: Very Tender (will not survive first frost)
In the next section, you'll learn how to grow your own peanuts.
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Peanuts need a frost-free growing season four to five months long. If your growing season is short, start peanuts inside two weeks before the average date of last frost then transplant them outside two to three weeks after the average date of last frost.
Peanuts like a well-worked sandy soil that is high in organic matter. The pegs have difficulty penetrating soil that has a high clay content. Plant seeds from shelled raw peanuts 1 to 3 inches deep.
Space both seeds and transplants 6 to 8 inches apart. Keep soil moisture even until the plants start to flower, then water less. Blind (empty) pods are the result of too much rain or humidity at flowering time. Use a heavy mulch to help the pegs become established.
The time from planting to harvest is 120 to 150 days. Start harvesting when frost begins; pull up the whole plant and let the pods dry on the vine.
Types of Peanuts
Few varieties are available. You can plant raw peanuts from the grocery. Virginia Jumbo matures in 135 days.