Peanuts are an incredibly popular snack and ingredient all around the world. But what if you could grow your own peanut plant at home?

That’s nuts!

In 2020, peanut consumption in the US has risen by 3.2% to the highest recorded 7.6 pounds per capita.

However, these figures pale in comparison to the world’s largest peanut producer and consumer – China. It’s estimated that in China the domestic consumption is 3,800 tonnes every year, using them for boiling and adding to sweet and savoury dishes.

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But did you know that peanuts aren’t actually nuts? In fact, they are botanically legumes.

Peanuts were first grown in valleys of Paraguay and were spread across the world by Spanish conquistadors and European traders.

Growing peanuts

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You might be surprised that peanuts can be grown in the UK. Although, they do need warm temperatures to grow and will not germinate unless the soil temperature reaches 18˚C.

In cooler climates, it’s ideal to grow them in dark-coloured containers because it’ll help keep the roots nice and warm.

The plant is annual and herbaceous, and very fast-growing, reaching 30 to 50cm tall.

It’s also a very nice-looking plant, with dark green divided leaves and lovely yellow, pea-like flowers with orange lines running through them.

Peanut plants need regular watering, around 500ml to 1000ml of annual rainfall, or the equivalent water supply from irrigation. But they don’t like to sit in water, so plant them in well-drained soil or a multi-purpose compost.

Start them off in 5cm pots during May. You should start to see bright shoots after a week.

Then you can put them on a windowsill, but not in direct sunlight, or in a container on the patio. You can also plant them directly in the ground once any cold weather has passed.

Picking peanuts

The plants are self-pollinating, which means that the stalks bend over in the summer and force the developing nuts into the soil, where they develop. That’s why some people call them ‘ground nuts’.

The pods ripen approximately 120 days after the seeds are planted. To harvest the peanuts, pull the entire plant out of the ground to expose the pods.

Leave it to dry out for three to four days, until the peanut pods lose around a third of their moisture.

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Once they are dry, separate the pods from the plant by threshing – just bash the plant against a hard surface like a sideboard or a step until the pods come off.

One word of warning – peanuts need four to five months of warm weather to develop the pods, so if you think it will be too cold, stick the plant in the greenhouse for a bumper crop.

So, give yourself a challenge this summer and grow peanuts using these tips.

Find out how to grow your own celeriac:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

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