Early in the spring, we planted a small patch of peanuts. Peanuts are a big crop in GA; as many of you might know, former president Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer. They grow really well in South GA, so we thought we would see how they did in the North GA mountains. Honestly, we did not have a lot of hope for them, but we were surprised. When we dug up our plants, we were delighted to find quite a few peanuts. There are not enough to keep us in peanut butter for the next year, but hey, we are going to enjoy having a nice big pot of boiled peanuts!
Peanuts need a long growing season. We started ours inside under grow lights. They came up and grew great, but when we transplanted them into the garden they wilted badly. Thankfully, they soon recovered and grew at a steady pace. Peanuts like sandy, loose, and well-drained soil to grow, but you can still grow them in clay soil. Which was perfect for us, because we don't have anything near sandy soil.
We eventually saw small yellow blooms, and that means they've started making peanuts. After a long wait, they were finally ready. There is no sure sign to tell when they're ready that we know of. Just look on your seed package and it will tell you the number of days till mature. Otherwise, you will just have to dig one of them up and see if your peanuts are ready to eat.
Peanuts go through a process called pegging, which means that they have runners underground that also produce peanuts. The plants don't just produce peanuts at the crown of the plant. It all depends on the variety and in what conditions they are grown in, but they should produce about 25 to 50 peanut pods. We planted our peanuts in a small square "peanut patch," which was actually too small for them. We still got a good harvest, though. Next year, instead of a small patch, we plan on making a long, rectangular, three-foot-wide row. We are thinking about plowing some sand and compost into the row before we plant.
Peanuts plants grow to be 12 to 18 inches tall and up to three feet long. So you should space your rows about 36 inches apart. If you don't want to start the seeds inside and then transplant them, then you plant the seeds directly into the ground. If you do so, you need to make sure that it has been three weeks after the last frost and that the temperature of the soil is above 60 degrees. You should plant your seeds just shy of 2 inches deep, and 4 to 6 inches apart.
It is really fun to grow peanuts; we enjoyed them this year! If you have not tried growing peanuts, give them a try. It might turn out better than you had hoped.
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