For best results plant from April to early June. There are four general types of peanuts: Virginia, Runner, Spanish, and Valencia. Virginia and Runner are bushy and have two large seeds per pod. Spanish and Valencia are mostly erect and have small seeds.
The peanut is a hot season vegetable that is easy to grow in a home garden. Because peanuts do best during a long, hot growing season, plant them from April until early June.
The seeds are shelled and planted about 1 to 1 1¦2 inches deep. There are about four or five seeds for each foot of row.
Peanuts need a well-drained, light, sandy soil with plenty of organic matter. The soil should be loose, not clayish and hard. Soils in the New Orleans area are excellent for peanut production, however, they can be improved by adding leaves, compost or well rotted manure. On heavy, clay-type soils, add plenty of sand to keep the soil from compacting.
Because peanuts can find enough fertilizer left over from other crops, they can be planted in April after winter greens and you may not have to add fertilizer. Don't plant them after Southern peas or beans.
If you're planting peanuts on a new row in the garden, put down only one-half cup or one-half handful of 8-8-8 fertilizer for each 10 feet of row. Peanuts need calcium in the top three to four inches of soil where pods develop. Without calcium, nuts will not fill out. Gypsum (calcium sulfate) can be applied when the peanuts flower to supply needed calcium. Have a soil test run to see if you need extra calcium or put down about one cup of gypsum for each 10 feet of row. Never put down lime without a soil test because too much lime can make your soil too sweet for peanut production.
To prepare your soil for peanuts, loosen it with a shovel as deep as you can. Add four inches of compost or leaves and mix well with soil. Make sure no clumps remain. Work soil when it's moist, not wet or dry.
Apply one-half handful or one-half cup of 8-8 8 fertilizer for every 10 feet of row. Make raised beds so the 8-8-8 is under them. Place beds three feet apart. Let them settle for a week and then plant seeds one inch deep, with about 4 seeds for each foot of row. Allow only two or three plants per foot to remain.
Cultivation to control weeds should be shallow. This prevents damage to peanuts because they develop near the soil surface. Applying one to two inches of well-rotted compost as a mulch will help keep weeds out. Hand-pull any small weeds as they appear. Leaves that have not been composted can be used as a mulch, but they're not as good as well-rotted compost.
When flowers appear on the plants about six to eight weeks after planting they are on stems above the ground. As the flowers fade, the stem begins to stretch downward, carrying with them part of the flower that will become the peanut.
Don't let peanuts dry out during flowering. Water them weekly until the soil is soaked six to eight inches deep. Flooding the middles is the best way to water, but you can use a sprinkler, if you water in the morning. If peanuts are allowed to dry out at any time after flowering, the plants will make fewer peanuts. Don't over-water. This can cause the nuts to sprout in the ground. Nuts will also sprout in the ground if there is too much rain right before harvest.
Peanuts are ready for harvest from 120 to 150 days after planting. As the older plants begin to yellow, they should be dug and left to dry upside down on the row for a day or two. If it's rainy, dry them in an airy place, out of rain. When the nuts are dry, pull them from the pegs and store them.
If you want to boil peanuts, do so right after digging, before much drying occurs.
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