Growing peanuts may not top your list for garden plants, but imagine container-grown peanuts as an engaging activity with your kids.
Peanuts, compared to other plants, face a slight challenge when grown in pots due to the limited underground space. However, it’s certainly not a lost cause!
Growing peanuts isn’t for everyone as they demand a long, warm growing season. If you’re in a cooler region, you might need some additional tools or methods to extend their season.
If your location doesn’t boast 100 frost-free days, initiating the seeds indoors is key. Once past this stage, peanuts can be grown by anyone!
- The uniqueness of peanut plants lies in their root-based harvest. Hence, a container that promotes robust root growth is essential. Opt for one that’s at least 12-24 inches deep.
- For those in chillier regions, sow your peanut seeds indoors a month before transferring them outdoors.
- Prioritize placing the container where it catches the maximum sunlight.
- Patience is the key; your peanut plants will require 90-150 days to mature. When the time is right, you’ll be uprooting the entire plant.
Root space and warmth are pivotal for these plants. The larger the pot, the richer the yield.
Thinking of diving in? This guide walks you through every step, from choosing an apt container to sowing the seeds and the final harvest. By year-end, you’ll be enjoying your own harvest of peanuts!
Start Growing Peanuts in Containers
Peanuts, also known as groundnuts, hail from the Fabaceae family. Rich in nutrients, they make an exciting choice for container gardening. Here’s a structured guide to help you embark on this gardening journey.
1. Selecting the Right Container
- Depth is Essential: Peanut pods mature 2-4 inches beneath the soil’s surface. Thus, opt for a container with a minimum depth of 12 inches, extending to 24 inches for better results.
- Drainage Matters: Ensure your chosen container possesses ample drainage holes. Avoiding waterlogged conditions is key to preventing rot.
- Plant Density: Depending on its size, a container can comfortably support 2-3 peanut plants. Larger pots can accommodate more plants.
2. Identifying the Ideal Spot
- Sunshine Galore: Contrary to popular belief, peanuts are tropical plants, favoring humid and warm settings. Secure the sunniest spot in your vicinity, ensuring maximum sunlight.
- Shelter from Wind: A location shielded from strong winds can be beneficial.
3. Preparing the Perfect Soil
- Quality Over Everything: Start with a premium potting mix, or customize your own.
- Nutrient-Rich Soil: Given peanuts’ extended growth cycle, they thrive in fertile soil abundant with rich humus.
- pH Balance: Aim for a neutral pH, preferably between 6.0 and 6.5.
- Good Drainage: Ensure that the soil doesn’t retain excess moisture.
4. Early Indoors Planting for Chilly Climates
For areas with fewer than 100 frost-free days:
- Indoor Start: Initiate the seeding process indoors approximately 30 days prior to the anticipated final frost.
- Sowing Seeds: Populate starter trays or pots with soil. Embed peanut seeds, lightly covering them. Hydrate and position in a warm spot. Germination can span 7-14 days—practice patience.
5. Transitioning Peanuts Outdoors
- Weather Watch: Peanuts, being warm-weather crops, are frost-sensitive. Ideal outdoor planting temperatures start at 70℉, with 80℉ being optimal.
- Geographical Suitability: While the southern U.S. offers a conducive environment for peanuts, even southern Canada can host them.
- Growing Duration: Recognize that peanuts demand 100-130 frost-free days. Plant them post the last frost in your region. Calculate the interval between the last and the next frost in your locality to ascertain if indoor starting is required.
- Pro Tip for Colder Regions: Choose peanut varieties that mature faster, approximately within 100 days, to adapt to shorter growing seasons.
Growing peanuts in containers offers the opportunity to enjoy a delightful gardening venture. Below is a comprehensive guide to plant and nurture peanuts in pots.
6. Sowing Peanut Seeds in Containers
- Shell Preparation: Retain peanut seeds in their shells until the very moment you’re ready to plant. Then, carefully crack open the peanut shell.
- Planting Steps: Having prepared your container with potting soil or your chosen mix, position four de-shelled peanuts atop. Bury the seeds about an inch deep, lightly cover with soil, and give them a generous watering to initiate germination.
- Transplanting Seedlings: Once the risk of frost is gone, relocate seedlings outdoors. Ensure that both transplants and seeds are spaced at least eight inches apart.
Caring for Container-Grown Peanuts
Having successfully sown the seeds, it’s time to ensure they thrive. Luckily, peanut plants are relatively low-maintenance, but a few crucial care steps will elevate their growth.
1. Hydrating Peanut Plants
- Consistent Moisture: Container-grown peanuts necessitate slightly moist soil, often requiring more frequent watering than their in-ground counterparts.
- Watering Regimen: Intensify watering during initial growth phases and flowering periods. A short dry spell is tolerable for these resilient plants.
- Moisture Check: Insert a finger into the soil to gauge its moisture. If the top 2 inches are dry, it’s time to water. Remember, the actual peanuts are developing on the roots!
2. Earthing Up: A Unique Aspect of Peanut Growth
- Why Earthing Up: Unlike many plants, peanut plants need regular soil addition around their base to maximize yield.
- When & How: Once your plant reaches a height of around 10 inches, heap more soil around its base, a process termed ‘earthing up’. This technique is also applied to potato cultivation.
- Watching the Pegs: Post flowering, the yellow blooms wane and the plant generates tendrils known as pegs. These pegs redirect growth towards the soil. Once observed, mound the soil further around the plant. This action needs repetition when the plant stands between 7-10 inches tall.
3. Fertilizing Tips for Peanut Plants
- Initial Growth: Peanut plants don’t require fertilizers at the outset.
- Fertilizing Point: The appearance of yellow flowers signals the ideal time to introduce an organic fertilizer enriched with potassium and phosphorus.
- A Nitrogen Note: Being legumes, peanuts naturally produce nitrogen. Avoid excess nitrogen addition during the growing phase, as it can be detrimental.
Peanut Plants: Tackling Common Pests & Ailments
While peanuts can thrive robustly under the right conditions, they aren’t exempt from pests and diseases. Especially when it comes to fungi and molds, peanuts have their vulnerabilities. However, it’s a silver lining that peanuts grown in containers tend to be less prone to these issues compared to those planted directly in the ground.
Leaf Spot: A Moisture-Loving Fungus
- Identification: Predominantly found in humid, warm regions, this fungal infection presents as small dotted marks on leaves with lighter-hued centers. Over time, the affected leaves take on a yellow tint and eventually fall off.
- Management: Combatting leaf spot can be tricky. Practicing crop rotation is vital since the fungus thrives in the soil. Opt for certified seeds that are disease-free and incinerate any infected foliage to prevent spread.
Aphids: The Sap Suckers
- Appearance: These minuscule pests can range in shades from black and red to green. Their rapid multiplication can become a real concern for gardeners.
- Habitat & Damage: Usually found clinging to the leaf’s underside, aphids extract sap, causing potential plant debilitation and disease transmission.
- Countermeasures: Regular plant checks can help in early detection. Dislodging aphids can be as simple as spraying water or applying insecticidal soap solutions.
Rootworms: The Underground Threat
- Description: These slender pests, approximately ½ inch in length, are yellowish-white with a distinguishing brown head. Notably, they’re the juvenile form of the spotted cucumber beetle.
- Damage: Rootworms target young plants, feasting on the peanut pegs and pods underground. Their presence can stagnate growth or even result in plant death.
- Solution: Introducing beneficial nematodes can effectively address rootworm infestations.
Potato Leafhoppers: Sharpshooting Sap Stealers
- Characteristics: Recognizable by their distinctive wedge shape (earning them the nickname “sharpshooters”), they anchor themselves to the underside of leaves.
- Impact: By drawing out sap, they not only weaken the plant but also become vectors for various diseases. This often results in leaf tips turning yellow.
- Preventative Measures: Keeping weeds in check can reduce the likelihood of a potato leafhopper invasion. Employ floating row covers as a protective barrier. If an infestation occurs, consider using pyrethrum-based sprays for control.
Guidelines for Harvesting Peanuts Grown in Containers
Peanuts require patience, as they typically need over 100 days to fully mature. The time frame from planting to harvesting ranges from 90 to 150 days. As this milestone draws near, keenly observe your plants for harvesting indicators.
The perfect harvest window presents itself when the plant leaves yellow and fade. Ideally, pick a dry spell for harvesting to simplify the uprooting process.
On average, a peanut plant can yield between 1 to 3 pounds of peanuts. The amount significantly depends on how well you’ve hilled the plants. However, container-grown peanuts may offer limited yields.
Harvesting should commence when plants show signs of dying or when frost is imminent. To harvest, uproot the entire plant—roots included—preferably using a spading fork. Once uprooted, shake off the soil and let the plant dry, roots facing upwards, in a sunny or dry location. A couple of days post-harvest, pluck the peanuts.
A Glimpse into Varieties of Container-Growable Peanuts
There are four main peanut varieties suitable for container planting. To choose the best, consider your intended use for the peanuts.
Peanut seeds, in essence, are actual raw peanuts still encased in their shells. Always retain the shell until planting time.
Boasting the largest nuts, they’re perfect for roasting. With 2-3 seeds per pod, these plants can grow up to 24 inches tall and 30 inches wide, requiring 130-150 days to mature.
The smallest variety, they’re excellent for culinary mixes or recipe enhancements. Their distinct reddish-brown skin covers a small, round nut. Typically, it takes 120 days for them to be ready. They are notable for their high oil content, suitable for oil extraction, peanut butter, or snacking.
Aiming for homemade peanut butter? Go for runner peanuts. They produce medium-sized nuts and grow in a low-lying bush. With a 130-150 day maturity period, their consistent size makes them ideal for roasting.
Characterized by 3-6 small, oval seeds per pod, Valencia peanuts have a standout bright-red skin. Mature plants reach 50 inches in height and 30 inches in width. After 95-100 days post-planting, they’re ready for harvesting. With a sweet profile, they’re often roasted or boiled and make great additions to desserts.
Growing peanuts in containers might not be on every gardener’s radar. But with adequate sunlight and an extended growing season, it’s an achievable endeavor. A sufficiently large pot is all you need to enjoy the flavor of homegrown peanuts in any garden setting.