By David Wall, Mount Pleasant Master Gardener
Peanut plants are somewhat unique in that they flower like a traditional vegetable plant but instead of producing their “fruit” above ground, they send what are called pegs down into the dirt to produce their nuts below ground. Traditionally, peanuts are grown only in areas with long summers, such as the deep south. The time from seed-to-harvest which is normally at least 20-150 days, makes them hard to grow in may climates before first frost.
This four-to-five-month requirement time is hard to squeeze in for many climates. The soil and air must warm up, and harvest has to occur before first frost. For example, by the time you’re reading this, you’re already limited timewise to get started. Fortunately, a way to cheat the weather is called growing in a container.
Containers work well for several reasons. First, starting something new like peanuts is always a challenge. Then, containers lower the soil requirements in your garden. They come in all sizes, but a 5-gallon paint-type container should be minimum, and a cattle feeder pot (21” diameter and 21” deep) is preferrable.
An advantage of containers is that they don’t require a large space in your garden during the growing season. Then if you place your containers where they will get enough sunlight, the peanuts will grow. No special soil is required, although many like potting soil.Buy your “seeds” from a nursery. They’ll usually germinate in 7-10 days. If soil & air haven’t warmed up, then start indoors. After a month or so, flowers appear. Then, pegs (offshoots from the flower) grow downward to the soil, penetrate it, and start producing peanuts. Now, you’re at about 4 months. In another month, pull the entire plant up with peanuts attached. Let the nuts dry for 10-14 days and start enjoying the harvest.