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How to Grow and Harvest Peanuts

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Whether you enjoy dry roasted peanuts, boiled peanuts, or simply want to build up your garden soil, peanut pods are a great home grown option. Growing your own peanuts, arachis hypogaea, in the home vegetable garden is easy to do, and it’s a fun crop for kids and adults alike. This is a popular crop in the south eastern United States, because the heat and humid conditions are perfect for peanuts!

Freshly pulled peanuts

Learning how to grow peanuts is great for your soil, and you get tasty peanuts as a bonus!

A history of growing peanuts

Growing peanuts is etched into my childhood. My grandparents farmed when my dad was growing up, and my Granny also had a full time job at Southern Bell phone company. Anyone remember Southern Bell? I digress. In my earliest memories of visiting their house, they no longer farmed the fields, but they always had a large garden, and peanuts were a summer staple.

Growing peanuts was something I always expected and eagerly anticipated. Any southerner worth their salt loves (or at least has tried) boiled peanuts. Pulling green peanuts out of the loose soil of the field and giving them a  good washing is all the prep you need for southern boiled peanuts. But that recipe will come later…

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Why you should start growing peanuts

This past year, I decided to try growing peanuts in one of our raised beds. If you’re new to the idea of growing peanuts, they are a legume with edible seed pods. Yes, those roasted and salted gems that the monocle wearing Mr. Peanut sells are actually the seeds of the plant.

 They grow underground, and after a long growing season, the entire plant is pulled up once they’re ready to harvest. Growing peanuts is fun for kids, especially those who love peanut butter, because it shows them exactly where peanuts come from. And if you love boiled peanuts, it gives you a chance to grow your own, and then invite me over for a bowl full.

You may reap the benefits of growing a peanut crop in the form of tasty treats, but your garden soil will also benefit. Since peanuts are in the legume family, they are in the family of nitrogen-fixing plants. That simply means they help put nitrogen back into the garden soil, which is vital for many plants to grow and thrive. So growing peanuts is a win for everyone! (Learn how to build up your garden soil here!)

Getting started growing peanuts

As with most things in the garden, start off with good seeds. Peanut seeds aren’t something you see alongside the other seed packets at your local hardware store in the late winter or early spring. 

You may have to search around to find a local source, or you can order peanuts from your favorite seed company. 

When you open the package, you’ll notice that the seeds look like shelled, roasted peanuts, but resist the urge to just eat them. Each peanut usually contains 3-4 seeds within that will be planted.

There are different types of peanuts, just like most other crops, but here are some popular choices for the home garden:

  • Eden Brother’s PeanutsEasy to grow variety of peanut that can also be grown indoors for those in cooler climates.
  • Tennessee Red Heirloom Peanuts: From Baker Creek Seed Co, this heirloom variety has been around since before 1930 and is one type of valencia peanuts.
  • Carwile’s Virginia Peanuts: This is the variety that I have personally grown in my own garden. Great peanut production and lovely small yellow flowers that are edible, this particular type can be found at Southern Exposure Seed out of Virginia. 

How to plant peanuts

Peanuts do have a lengthy growing season and love the heat of summer to thrive and grow. So when it comes time for you to plant your peanuts, what do you need to consider?

  • Wait until later in spring or the early summer to plant. Peanuts love, and need, hot weather and warm soil temperature in order to thrive and grow properly. Make sure you have had a steady flow of frost-free days before considering planting. 
  • Choose a spot that is in full sun and has well-drained soil. Since peanuts grow underground, water-logged soil will rot the peanuts and can kill the whole plant.
  • Once you’re ready to plant, crack open the shells and take out the peanut seeds. I like to do this ahead of time so planting is quicker, but you can certainly crack open the peanuts as you go along. The shells can actually be worked in the soil surface to break down on their own.
  • Plant 2 to 3 seeds 1-2 inches deep and 8-10 inches apart in well draining soil. If you’re planting in rows, keep rows 2-3 feet apart. You can also plant peanuts in hills like potatoes or in raised beds. The beauty of planting peanuts in raised beds is the naturally loose soil which is perfect for giving peanuts the freedom to grow. 
growing peanuts
Young peanut plants in a row garden

Peanuts can be slow to grow at first, so don’t worry if you aren’t seeing peanut seedlings immediately. If weed control is an issue in your garden space, you can grow a quick crop, like radishes, between the peanut plants. The radishes will keep the weeds at bay while the slow growing peanuts get going, and you can harvest the radishes once the peanuts are more established. 

Peanut plant maintenance

Peanut plants are pretty low maintenance as far as garden crops go. As peanut plants get larger, they’ll produce lovely yellow flowers which can be harvested and eaten. 

Once the peanut plants begin to bloom, I sprinkle gypsum on plants. The gypsum, a form of calcium sulfate, helps the peanuts growing underground to fill out, and it is easy to apply. I simply use a garden glove and sprinkle it all over the plants.

Putting the gypsum in a shaker would also work as well. You can easily make a shaker with an old coffee can or mason jar with holes poked in the lid. That’s a bit of gardener ingenuity. As a note with gypsum and all powdery garden substances, I would avoid putting the gypsum on my plants when bees are most active in the garden. Gypsum is not a pesticide of any type, but I don’t want to run the risk of accidentally covering them in the powder.

On average, peanuts need about four to five  months to grow and mature. And while this seems to take forever, they’re such a low maintenance crop that you can just let them grow and not fuss over them much. In the late summer or early fall, the peanut plants will be ready to harvest.

peanut plants sprinkled with gypsum
Gypsum sprinkled on peanut plants

How to Harvest Peanuts

When will you know when it’s harvest time for your peanuts? There are several ways to tell; the first being the amount of days from when you planted the seeds. Some varieties have a shorter growing season than others, so be sure to note what type of peanut you’re growing as well as the information about days to harvest. 

Another sign your peanuts may be ready to harvest is the leaves on the peanut plants begin to turn yellow. This is reminiscent of potato plants, whose leaves will begin to yellow and die when they’re ready to harvest. So, once you know it’s time, what do you do to get all of that peanut goodness out of the ground?

  • Wait for several days of dry weather to harvest peanuts, so the soil is nice and dry.
  • Avoid pulling the plants up without loosening up the soil first. Instead, take a garden fork and loosen up the soil around the base of the plant. 
  • Then pull the plant up and see your peanut harvest! This is a great job for kids to help with. They love seeing the magic of peanuts coming out of the ground!
  • Once peanuts are harvested, follow the instructions below for drying out the peanuts. 
peanuts being pulled from the ground
peanuts being pulled from the soil

How to dry out peanuts

Once peanuts are out of the ground, there are several ways to proceed.

  • If you plan to boil your peanuts, take the peanuts off of the plant and wash thoroughly, then proceed with boiling.
  • For roasting or other uses, keep peanuts attached to the plant and allow to dry for two weeks in a well ventilated space. Much like drying garlic and herbs, keep the peanuts of direct sunlight and once they are dry, remove any excess soil that can be brushed off. 
  • Once peanuts have been taken off of the plant, store the dried peanuts in containers or bags that are ventilated. 
  • Work the peanut plants back into the soil of your garden for enriching the soil. No waste!

How to Grow Peanuts FAQ’s

  • Can peanut plants be grown from raw peanuts? Sure! If you have raw peanuts that are still in the shell, then they can be used as peanut seeds. 
  • Do peanuts need to be soaked before planting? As with many seeds, peanuts can be soaked the night before planting to speed up the germination process. 
  • What is the best soil type for growing peanuts? Loose, sandy soil is best for peanut development, since they’ll need the space for developing the legumes below the surface. 

Recipes for using fresh peanuts

If you’ve grown your own peanuts and are now ready to use them, consider these tasty recipes!

  • Easy Boiled Peanuts: Use this easy recipe from the Daring Gourmet to create a delicious snack from your peanuts. This is hands-down my favorite way to make/use peanuts at home. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. 
  • Basic Roasted Peanuts: If you want to keep it simple and classic, then this recipe from Food.com is for you. There’s only one ingredient, and that’s peanuts! Follow these instructions for taking raw peanuts and oven roasting them right at home. 
  • Homemade Honey Roasted Peanuts:If you want to take your peanut roasting game up a notch and have a bit of a sweet tooth, then this honey roasted peanut recipe from Served from Scratch may be just what you’re looking for. I personally love honey roasted peanuts!

Growing peanuts is really quite simple, and if you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to give it a try! There are loads of benefits for your garden, and it’s so fun to try something new each year. 

I’d love to know if you’ve tried growing peanuts or just let me know your favorite way to eat peanuts. Have a great week and happy gardening!

Yield: One Peanut Crop

How to Grow and Harvest Peanuts

How to Grow and Harvest Peanuts

Learning how to grow peanuts at home is very easy. Peanuts are an easy-to-grow legume that do well in row gardens or raised beds.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Active Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 2 months
Total Time 2 months 40 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $5

Materials

  • - Peanut Seeds
  • - Gypsum
  • - Fertilizer (optional)
  • - Compost (optional)

Tools

  • Spade/ Trowel
  • Garden gloves

Instructions

    1. Prepare soil with compost and loosen.
    2. Once you’re ready to plant, crack open the shells and take out the peanut seeds.
    3. Plant 2 to 3 seeds 1-2 inches deep and 12 inches apart in well draining soil. If you’re planting in rows, keep rows 2-3 feet apart. You can also plant peanuts in hills like potatoes.
    4. Peanuts can be slow to grow at first, so don’t worry if you aren’t seeing plants immediately. If weeds are an issue in your garden space, you can grow a quick crop, like radishes, between the peanut plants. The radishes will keep the weeds at bay while the slow growing peanuts get going.
    5. As the peanut plants get larger, they’ll produce lovely yellow flowers. At this point, I sprinkle gypsum on plants.
    6. When it's time to harvest, wait for several days of dry weather to harvest peanuts, so the soil is nice and dry.
    7. Avoid pulling the plants up without loosening up the soil. Instead, take a garden fork and loosen up the soil around the plants. Then pull the plant up and see your peanut harvest!
    8. Dry peanuts out for roasting or clean off for boiling. Enjoy!

Christy

Monday 12th of June 2023

I just found out a few weeks ago, peanuts don't grow on trees...Ehh, I'm from the north and live in the south. So I picked up a bag of raw organic peanuts from Walmart. It was in the healthy nut section by produce, under 2.00 for the bag. Squirrels, chipmunks and deer love them too. Took off the shell, planted a few in some small pots with seed starting "soil" and watered. Woke up the next morning to a small hole and no peanuts. Tried again, went outside just an hour after dark, peanuts already gone. I think it might've been a mouse since it was a small hole, and was happening after dark. The raccoons and possums dig holes to China and make a huge mess when digging in my plants. So I set up my greenhouse, which is a pain because I have to make sure to get up early to open it up before it gets hot. Took about a week to see growth. And I now have quite a few peanut plants growing; getting ready to transplant to a bigger set up.

Courtney

Wednesday 14th of June 2023

Hi Christy! It definitely could have been a squirrel digging up those peanuts as well. I'm so glad you're giving peanuts a try this year; let me know how your harvest turns out!

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