Peanut

I checked on the Mr. Yogato garden on Friday. Well, I do many times a week, but that was when I noticed little spike-like things hanging from the peanut plant. At first, the little yellowy peanut flowers just fell off of the plant, but then some of them clearly got some action. I saw what are called pegs--there are about four or so right now. (Sorry for the "quality" of the photo; the camera focused on the dirt behind the peg, not on the peg itself, and this is the best of two bunches.) These insert into the ground (hopefully) and produce (hopefully) single pods of two to three peanuts in about two and a half months.

Excitement!

So, I guess this is an opportune time to actually get one of those plant profiles done, eh?

Arachis hypogaea
Sow depth1-2 inches
Emergence1-2 weeks (Germination is slower if peanut seeds are left within the shell.)
Temperature65 F to germinate, 70-85 F for growth. Cool weather is bad--frost kills!
LightI would assume lots of sunlight. I think growing indoors might be tricky, but not impossible. But this one is outdoors, so I can't make too brazen an assumption.
SoilLoose, sandy soil. Avoid packed or clay soils.
pH6.0 is best, but tolerates acidic or basic soils (how acidic or basic is uncertain)
HeightCan be 1-1.5 feet tall, 1-3 feet wide
PollinationCan self-pollinate, but I don't think this is a guarantee.
Maturity120 to 140 days from emergence. Flowers start to form 30-40 days after emergence; pegs penetrate soil about 10 days after fertilization; pegs go down about 2 inches, where the peanut forms over about 10 weeks.
Harvest25-50 peanuts per plant. Not all peanut pods mature at the same time. When leaves turn yellow, harvest entire plant. Hang to dry in a well-ventilated area for 1-2 weeks. Remove pods and allow to dry for another week.
Culinary UsePeanut butter, peanut oil, flour, roasted peanuts, cookies, cakes, trail mix, soups, stirfries, geez, this seed is pretty versatile!
ProblemsAspergillus (during dry times, can infect plant, releases aflatoxins, which seem like kind of sneaky chemicals, not like botulinin). Overly wet conditions can lead to rotting of the peanut pod. Of course, some people are deathly allergic to peanuts, although I don't know whether touching or being in the vicinity of the plant will cause a reaction. I, however, get itchy whenever I touch any cucurbit leaf or vine, although the only ones I can't eat are melon-types.


Peanuts are the epitome of agriculture to me. Not really gardening, but agriculture. George Washington Carver was my idol when I was a child; I read tons about him. I can't remember much at the moment, but I know that he was a genius and that he very much revolutionized agriculture. (The Field Museum has great information online from a temporary exhibit last year, and I plan on reading it in full sometime soon. Chicago-area people, they have exhibits on water and pirates right now, which seem totally rad, so you should go. Contrary to its name, it's not [always] about fields and agriculture, it's named after a guy Field and dedicated to natural history, art, culture, etc.)

Of course, peanuts are legumes, so they replace nitrogen in the soil for plants that will grow in that spot in the following year ('cause, y'know, crop rotation = god). I actually think peanuts could be grown fairly handily in containers--maybe a 12" pot would be perfect (18" taproot, so it needs some space), although it could probably squeeze into an 8" pot, but I don't know how worthwhile the harvest would be, either way. I can't decide if that "25 to 50 peanuts" is pods (so maybe 50 to 150 peanuts) or just actual peanuts. Either way, that's, well, peanuts, so unless you have an entire room full of plants in your apartment or house, making indoor-produced peanut butter is pretty much out of the question. But the flowers are cute and striking, and the sheer oddity of how these things grow make them worthwhile to try. (Aha! "The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food" by Tanya L. K. Denckla agrees with me that peanuts are fine to grow in containers--but Denckla doesn't provide a suggested pot size.)

The variety I am growing, with the peg pictured above, is "Carolina Black" from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They have a black paper coating instead of the traditional reddish-brown.

List of diseases here.

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One Response to Peanut

  1. and there was me thinking that peanuts grew below ground and had to be dug up like potatoes.

    ReplyDelete

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