All about Peanuts and How to Plant Them
Many people think that growing peanuts in a home garden is impossible. However, it is actually possible for everyone to grow them in their home garden if they know how to plant peanuts. Having this particular plant in your garden will allow you to make your own peanut butter and roasted peanut. Therefore, you can have those snacks readily at home.
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What You Must Know about Peanuts
If you want to be successful in planting this plant, you must not only know the steps of how to plant peanuts. But, you must also know more about it.
This knowledge will help you to provide the right environment for the peanuts to grow. Moreover, it will help you to take care of them properly. These are some of the things you must know about peanuts.
1. Origin of Peanuts
This particular plant is originated from tropical areas in South America. Thousands of years ago, the Incas already cultivated this plant for various purposes.
When the Spanish explorers came to this area, they brought this nut to their own country and introduced it to Europe. Later on, this plant was spread to Asia and Africa by traders.
This particular nut was also spread to North America possibly by the colonists. The cultivation of peanuts in the 18th century was not very popular in this region.
One of the reasons was that the cultivation and harvesting this nut is not easy. But, the development of technology and increased demand had caused this plant to be widely cultivated.
2. Plant Description
Peanuts are annual plants. They are usually harvested when the leaves turns to yellow. These plants need 100 to 150 frost free days to mature. Different varieties will have different maturity period. Those with shorter maturity period are more perfect for areas with cooler climates.
The peanut is actually a member of pea family. Therefore, it is closely related to bean, soybean, and other legumes. It is different from the tree nuts, such as almond and walnut since the fruit or nut is located under the ground. The scientific name of this plant is Arachis hypogaea. Meanwhile, peanuts are also known as goobers, groundnuts, and monkey nuts.
Peanuts may be considered as a legume, but peanuts taste like tree nut. Moreover, it has hard skin and dry fruit. Therefore, it is called nut. This particular plant is very unique. It has above-ground flowers. However, the fruits develop under the ground. For you who never grow peanuts before, you will find out that your peanut plant offers you with unique parts.
And before you perform the steps of how to plant peanuts, you must know what those parts are.
Peanut leaves are small and a bit oval. Its size is about 10 mm wide. These leaves grow on small, sturdy, and hairy stems. The height of the stem can reach up to 45 cm tall. Certain varieties have runner stems. Meanwhile, others have erect stems.
Peanuts flowers are small. They are yellow and self-fertile. These flowers will bloom when the peanut plants are about 40 days old. Moreover, they emerge from the lower part of the stems. After the pollination occurs, these flowers will wither and peanut ovaries will start to develop.
A peg looks like a stalk which length is about 10 cm. It is also knows as budding ovary. It emerges from the base of a peanut flower. Then, it grows toward and penetrates the soil. This ovary then will develop a fruit or a peanut pod under the ground.
Peanut plants will keep flowering even though the previous flowers have pollinated and produced peanut pods. As a result, when you harvest them, you will likely get some young peanut pods. Inside these pods, you will find 1 to 3 fruits or kernels. Certain varieties can produce more than 3 kernels in one pod.
Moreover, different varieties also produce kernels in different size. The kernels are covered with a thin skin. In general, the color of this skin is white or pale pink. However, you can also find peanuts with dark purple and light brown skin.
3. Growing Environment
It is true that peanuts are originally from tropical regions. However, they can be planted in northern U.S to Canada if they are planted properly. Therefore, if you want to gain a success in growing them, you need to prepare the growing environment properly.
This particular plant is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 8 to 12. Moreover, as it is stated before, they require up to 150 days of free frost to grow. However, it doesn’t mean that those who live in other zones cannot grow peanuts.
For you who live in cooler areas, with shorter frost free days, can perform the method of how to plant peanuts in pots indoor. In doing it, you need to make sure that you choose a big enough container for each plant. Moreover, you also need to provide the right temperature for the plants.
Peanuts are planted from seeds. The best time to grow peanuts is in the spring, between April and June. However, it is important for you to make sure that the danger of last frost has gone. The seeds are capable to germinate when the temperature is between 20o C and 35 o C. But, peanuts plants grow best in temperature of 30o C.
If you live in cooler areas, you can germinate the seeds indoor. The best time to do it about 1 or 2 months before the danger of last frost has gone. After the warmer day has come, you can transplant your peanuts plant outside..
If you want to have bountiful harvest of peanuts, you must plant them in an area with full direct sun. Planting them in a sunny spot will not only make them produce lots of peanuts. But, it will also make them healthy and resistant to diseases. Therefore, you’ll get the best out of your peanut plants.
These plants require moist and well-drained soil. If the soil on the planting site is dry, you need to water it deeply. Peanuts are tolerant to flooded soil if it is only temporarily and the soil has good drainage.
Moreover, the soil must be light, sandy, and loamy. Peanut plants cannot grow well in hard soil, such as clay and rocky soil. If the soil in your garden is hard, you must work on it before you can start the process of how to plant peanuts.
In addition, the soil must have the right acidity level. Peanuts love to grow in slightly acidic soil, at pH level between 6.0 and 6.5. However, if the pH level of your garden soil is between 5.5 and 7.0, you don’t need to worry. These plants can tolerate it.
Peanuts also need fertile soil to yield big and lots of nuts. Therefore, you need to mix compost to your garden soil before you plant them. Moreover, you can also use certain fertilizer to fertilize the soil. But, you need to make sure that the fertilizer is low in nitrogen. It is because peanuts can fix their own nitrogen.
4. Peanut: Nutritional Value and Uses
Snacking on peanuts is not only delicious. But, it can make you healthier. Raw peanuts are rich in vitamin B3, B5, and E, folate, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Moreover, it is also high in carbohydrate, protein, dietary fiber, and healthy fat. Therefore, you can help your body gets more nutrients by eating some peanuts.
Moreover, this particular nut is also rich of antioxidants. Polyphenols and phytosterols are some of them. People all around the world cultivate peanuts for foods. There are choices of foods that use peanuts as one of the ingredients. Some of them are roasted peanut, peanut butter, boiled peanut, peanut sauce, and peanut bar.
In addition, peanuts are used in various products, such as biscuits, candies, and cakes. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to peanuts. This particular allergy can cause fatal effect. In consequence, products that contain this nut must provide warning on their packages. Moreover, peanuts are also processed into peanut oil. It is used as salad oil and cooking oil..
Meanwhile, The residue of peanut oil is peanut cakes. They are used as livestock feed. Moreover, peanuts are also used in various industries. Some of them are in insecticides, leather dressing, lubricating oil, and paint industries.
5. Peanut Varieties
There are several peanuts varieties that you can grow. Some of them may be suitable for your environment. But others may not. Therefore, you must choose the right seeds before you prepare the process of how to plant peanuts. These are some of them.
This particular peanut is scientifically named as Arachis Fastigiata. It takes about 105 to 115 days to reach maturity. It has smaller kernels. They are reddish brown. Moreover, they are also higher in oil than other varieties of peanuts.
It is one of the most popular peanut varieties to grow. Its kernels are larger than other varieties. They are high in protein and great to make peanut butter. This particular plant takes about 120 days to reach maturity. Moreover, it can grow up to 60 cm tall.
This variety of peanut takes about 110 days to mature. Its kernels are red and a bit small. There are 3 to 6 kernels in one shell. In addition, these kernels are sweeter than other peanuts. This type peanut is usually made as boiled peanut.
This particular peanut will give you a big crop. Its kernels are medium size. In addition, they are great to make roasted peanut. But, they are also good for peanut butter. This variety of peanut needs 130 to 150 days to reach maturity.
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How to Plant Peanuts
Peanuts are planted from seeds. You can plant them with the shell on or off. However, if you want to increase the germination rate, you can soak the seeds overnight before you do the first step of how to plant peanuts. Moreover, it is also essential for you to choose healthy and large size seeds to grow.
These are the steps of how to plant peanuts.
1. Planting Site Preparation
Before you plant the peanut seeds, you need to make sure that your garden soil meets the growing environment for peanuts. These are some tips you can follow in preparing the soil.
- Loosen your garden soil by mixing it with compost and sand. But, if you already have loose soil, you only need to mix it with compost.
- Test the acidity level of the soil. If the pH level is not in the range of 5.5 and 7.0, you need to do something about it.
- If you are going to germinate the seeds indoor, you need to have large biodegradable pots. They will minimize the transplanting shock. Moreover, you also need high quality potting mix.
2. Planting The Seeds
Once the planting site is ready, you can follow these steps.
- Plant the peanut seeds 5 cm deep.
- Be sure that you plant the seeds 5 cm apart between them. Meanwhile, you must give 13 cm space between rows.
- Water the seeds after planting. But, you must not cause the soil to be soggy.
- The seedlings will emerge in about 10 days. After they are old enough, you need to thin the plants up to 13 cm apart
3. Caring for Peanut Plants
To have a nice harvest, you need to care for the plants properly. These are what you need to do.
- Loosen the soil around the plants when they are 15 cm tall.
- Create small hills around the plant when they start to flower.
- Cover the small hills with light mulch of straw.
- Water each plant one inch of water per week.
- You don’t need to fertilize the soil during their growing season since they can fix their own nitrogen. However, you need to make sure that the soil is rich of nutrients by fertilizing it prior to planting.
Your peanuts are ready to harvest when their leaves are yellowing. If you are not sure whether they are ripe enough or not, you can test it by pulling out several nuts. If there are gold-mark veins on the shells, it means the nuts are ready to harvest.
In harvesting them, you need to dig out the whole plants. After that, pull the plants out and shake the dirt off. Next, you need to dry the peanuts by hanging them in a dry room.
Once they are dry you can make them into roasted peanut or peanut butter. Don’t forget to leave enough peanuts for your next season planting.
Many of you may not consider growing peanuts in your kitchen garden. However, they are actually a nice addition in your garden. Moreover, they are tasty and rich of nutrients. If you follow the steps of how to plant peanuts above, you will surely get those advantages readily at home.
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