Growing peanuts can be a fun and exciting adventure if you like to work outdoors. You can use them as a project to get your kids involved and learn about how things are grown.
While it is not a quick project because it will take pretty much all summer it can be very educational and exciting anticipating the results.
Peanuts are native to South America and are actually part of the legume family, not the nut family. Records indicate the good ole peanut has been around for 3500 years or so. Its original home is thought to be on the lower eastern slopes of the Andes in what is now Brazil.
Peanuts were seen to grow as far north as Mexico when the Spanish explored the western Americas. The peanut traveled with Portuguese traders from Brazil to Europe and Africa. From Africa they traveled by ship to the Americas where slaves planted them throughout the south.
There are four basic types of peanuts grown in the United States today.
Runner, Spanish, Valencia and Virginia. Each type is unique in size, shape and flavor.
Runner peanuts are mainly grown in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and over half of the Runner peanuts grown in the United States are used to make peanut butter.
Spanish peanuts, grown mostly in Oklahoma and Texas, are primarily used to make candies and peanut oil.
Valencia peanuts are mainly grown in New Mexico and are the sweetest of the four types.
Virginia peanuts, grown in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, are mainly roasted and sold in and out of the shell.
Peanuts are a fun plant to grow if you have enough growing days in the summer. They usually need around 110 – 150 warm days to reach maturity. Most people say that you don’t need special seeds to plant, just get some raw peanuts from your local grocery store or health food store and plant them. This is a great project to do with children, but it will take all summer before you can harvest any peanuts.
Plant them about one and a half inches deep in soft, rich soil. Work in some manure and sand if possible and mound it up to form a hill if the ground seems a little soggy. Give them a good watering and then don’t water again for about 10 days or until the little seedling pops up. They grow best in a warm and humid climate.
The peanut plants will need about 110 to 150 warm days, without any danger of frost. If you think there might be a danger of frost, plant them inside in individual pots and then transplant them outside once it has warmed up. Once the plants start forming branches, they will take root and push the pods down into the ground. Make sure the ground is soft enough or lay down a good bed of mulch for them.