Have you ever thought about growing peanuts? This leguminous is easy to grow in the garden and if you want you can also keep it in a vase. Surely the peanut plant so loved by Super Goofy in the comics will not fail to surprise adults and children, when they see the extraordinary harvest that the peanut gives in the ground.
Peanuts are a nice crop to keep in the family garden: they can be roasted and eaten as a snack or even blended to obtain a very good homemade peanut butter. This dried fruit is also known by the name of American peanut or ground pistachio, although it has nothing to do with the pistachio tree.
Freshly harvested peanuts, photo by Antonio Tocco.
Although widely cultivated in the past, also in Italy, today peanuts are widespread above all abroad, in third world countries. Particularly in professional agriculture they are required to produce seed oil. Peanut plants resemble those of chickpeas, reaching a height of about 30 cm.
Like all legumes, peanuts also take nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it in the soil enriching it, making it an excellent plant to be included in the crop rotation of a synergistic garden.
The ideal soil for peanuts
Soil and climate. Peanuts require a fairly loose soil, with a medium texture, which does not create water stagnation. It loves the heat and exposure to the sun, the temperature must not go below 15 degrees, which is why it is grown starting in spring and it may be useful to cover it with non-woven fabric.
Climate and exposure - Another factor that could jeopardize the life of our 'peanut' is the climate: peanuts love temperate areas and mild climates. It fears temperatures below 16 °, so we will have to sow it in spring, when we will see that even the night temperatures will not drop too much, or we will have to remember to cover it with non-woven fabric. If we want to anticipate its cultivation, we can sow it in a seedbed indoors at the end of winter and then transplant it outdoors when the season allows it and it will have stabilized. We choose a sunny area for the peanut and sheltered from cold winds.
Peanuts are sown by placing the seeds in the ground. obviously roasted seeds should not be used that are bought in food stores, the seed buries itself with its intact reddish film. It considers itself a distance of 15 cm between the plants, between one row and the other it is better to leave at least 40 cm. To anticipate the harvest, it may be possible to sow in jars in protected cultivation in February and then transplant in March / April in the garden.
Where to find peanut seeds. The peanut seed is the peanut itself, you can also find peanuts for sowing online.
Peanut Plant Rows
How American peanuts are grown
The peanut is a plant with a very particular development: it emits yellow flowers in clusters (called racemes) which, once fertilized, fold into the ground, giving life to the pod with the seeds at 7-8 cm deep, these are the peanuts that we will need digging during harvesting. You can speed up the process tuck the plant up at the end of flowering, making sure that pollination has already taken place.
Growing peanuts is pretty straightforward, it is a fairly rustic plant and in addition to hilling and proper irrigation it is enough to do some weeding to control the weeds and control any attacks by aphids.
Irrigation. Peanuts resist drought fairly well but for a good cultivation they require frequent irrigation, it is better to wet often without exaggerating with the quantities that create stagnations with consistent watering. Irrigation is suspended during the ripening phase, also to avoid rotting our peanuts.
Adversity: peanuts fear fungal diseases, they are prevented by working the soil correctly to prevent water from stagnating near the plant. As parasites it is attacked by aphids (the black aphid of legumes) and by the red spider mite, it is possible to defend the cultivation with natural methods such as nettle macerate and garlic macerate.
Collect the peanuts in the vegetable garden
Collection. The peanut harvest takes place in September / October, when the seeds ripen. From sowing 100/130 days pass, typically sowing in April is harvested in September, if we plant in May we expect to have our peanuts in October. A sign that the seeds are ready is the yellowing of the larger leaves. To collect them, the plants are pulled from the ground bringing to light the pods with the seeds that are under the plant.
Toasting and use. Peanuts should be dried or roasted at a low temperature. By blending the toasted peanuts you get a cream, which can be made softer and more spreadable by adding oil, it is the delicious peanut butter, to try spread on bread or combined with bananas.