How to Grow Peanuts

Learn how to grow peanuts using this planting advice, includes common varieties of peanuts to grow, preparing soil for peanuts, sowing peanuts and when to harvest.

| December 2002/January 2003

The loosened soil under this peanut plant reveals the pods that form underground.

The loosened soil under this peanut plant reveals the pods that form underground.


Learn how to grow peanuts using these helpful planting tips.

Growing and Preparing Peanuts

Pegging Peanuts: A Geocarpic Wonder
How to Boil Peanuts

Considering all they have to offer, it's hard to imagine how peanuts became associated with smallness, as in "peanut-brain" or "buying something for peanuts." Nutritionally speaking, peanuts are packed with protein, fiber and vitamin E, plus the kind of fat that lowers cholesterol rather than raising it. In the garden, peanuts are solar-powered wonders that fix their own nitrogen, and you can feed the plant tops to animals or use them as mulch, after you harvest the nuts. Peanuts themselves can show up in any course on the table, from salad to dessert. No wonder we eat so many of them. The average American consumes six pounds of peanut products per year, but I think I eat three or four times that much. I really like peanuts!

Peanuts: A Brief History

Known as ground nuts, monkey nuts and goobers, peanuts are native to South America, where they have been cultivated for at least 3,500 years. Brazil is home to 63 species, many of which are perennial, and Ecuador also hosts numerous ancestral strains. In the wild, peanuts often are pioneer plants, using their nitrogen-fixing ability to spread into disturbed places where they effortlessly improve the soil. And, although peanuts are generally regarded as a warm-climate crop, wild strains of Arachis hirsuta ("hairy peanut") have been found in the Andes Mountains at the chillingly high altitude of 8,790 feet.

Here in North America the annual peanut species grown for its nuts, Arachis hypogaea, needs plenty of warm weather, but you don't have to live in Georgia to grow great goobers. In southern Ontario, Ernie and Nancy Racz have been growing peanuts as a cash crop since 1982. Although Ontario is a long way from the Poplar Grove Plantation near Wilmington, North Carolina (where the first peanuts are thought to have been grown on this continent) both locations work well for peanuts. The trick is choosing the best type for your climate.

How to Grow Peanuts: Varieties

There are four major types of peanuts: Valencia, Spanish, runners and Virginia.

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