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Growing and harvesting peanuts is a little like hosting your own treasure hunt. These warm season plants are easy to grow in areas with long, hot summers and moist, well-drained soil. When the peanut foliage turns yellow, it’s time to go on a dig for your treasure. The underground nuts are ready to eat a few weeks after digging and drying. Grow peanuts in the vegetable garden where the soil is loose and moist.
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Types of Peanuts
Peanuts are known by several names—goobers, goober peas, groundpeas, and earth nuts are just a few. Peanuts are classified by their nut type. Virginia types are large-podded and contain 1 or 2 large kernels per pod. Spanish types are smaller-podded and contain 2 or 3 kernels per pod. Both Virginia and Spanish types can be grown in the home garden. Some peanut plants grow in a clump while others produce runners.
Peanut Plant Care
Peanuts grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. This root crop languishes in clay and poorly drained soil. Plant peanuts after the danger of frost has passed and soil is at least 65°F. Sow seeds 1 to 1½ inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart. Row spacing for bunch types should be about 24 inches apart, and 36 inches apart for runner types.
Peanut plants bloom about 30 to 40 days after germination. After pollination, peanuts develop in 9 to 10 weeks. Peanut plants flower over a period of several weeks, meaning all the pods do not mature at the same time. Promote a strong peanut crop by cultivating around plants to remove weeds. Work carefully and shallowly, being careful not to damage peanut roots.
Harvest peanuts when the foliage begins to turn yellow. Use a spading fork to gently lift the peanut plants out of the ground. Shake off loose soil. Cure or dry plants by hanging them in a warm, dry, shaded place, such as a shed or garage, for about two weeks. After 2 weeks shake off any remaining soil and pull peanuts pods from the plants. Continue to air-dry the peanuts for an additional 1 to 2 weeks.