Peanuts are normally grown in the South since they require a rather long growing season. This crop needs between 120-130 days without frost in order to produce mature peanuts. If you choose to, you can start your peanuts indoors 5-8 before the time to plant them outside. They should not be planted outdoors until the soil has reached 65 degrees, usually about 3-4 weeks after the last frost.
Plant peanuts in a sandy soil if possible. Although they will grow in dark, heavy soil just as well, the shells will pick up the darker color of the soil. Most commercially-grown peanuts have light-colored shells, which is what most people are accustomed to seeing. Growing peanuts in loose, light-colored soil will result in them having the most desirable color.
You can purchase peanuts to plant from a seed supply store or just get the raw ones from the grocery store and plant those. Either way will work. Peanuts should be planted 6-8 inches apart and 1.5-3 inches deep. Once you have plants growing, they should be thinned. You want to end up with a plant about every 18 inches in the row.
If there are any cool days at the beginning of the growing season, you may want to set some clear plastic over the rows of peanut plants to increase the temperature. Peanuts need to be in 85-degree weather or warmer just about every day or they will not produce well. By tenting the plants with clear plastic on cool days, you will help the plants grow better.
The plants should be watered regularly until they start flowering. After that, you can let the soil dry in between watering. When the plants get to be about twelve inches tall, you should build up some soil around the bottom of the plant to form a hill. The plant will send pegs into this hill of dirt to produce the peanuts. Keep some mulch around the plants. This will make it easier to harvest the peanuts when they are ready.
Wait until the leaves turn yellow and start withering before you harvest the plants. To harvest, use a garden fork to carefully pull out the entire plant. The plants should be hung to dry in a dry, warm place for approximately two weeks. Once the hulls of the peanuts are dry, the seeds can be removed.
It is recommended that you plant 10-12 plants for each member of your household if you want to have enough nuts for the whole family. Once harvested, you can store raw peanuts in the shell in a dark, dry place for up to three months. Dried and shelled nuts will keep for 10-12 months in a cool, dry place. You can also freeze them, roast them or use them to make peanut butter.
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