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Connecticut Garden Journal: Go nuts planting peanuts

Fresh peanuts plants with roots plants harvest of peanut plants.
Kiran Nagare
Did you know we can grow peanuts in New England? Peanuts need at least 100 days of warmth, sun and moisture to form a crop.

With summer here, it's time to experiment with some unusual, warm weather loving vegetables. One unique thing I've tried growing for a few years now is peanuts. These nuts taste even better than store bought ones when grown in your garden.

Peanuts are commonly grow in warmer climates, such as the Southeast, where well-drained soil, heat and humidity provide the perfect conditions for these ground nuts. But peanuts are native to South America and can grow in a variety of climates, including New England, with a little coaxing.

Peanuts are legumes and have a unique way of making nuts. The bushy, pea-like plants have small yellow flowers that are easy to miss. These flowers get pollinated and form a peg or stem that drills into the soil around the plant. It's at the end of this peg in the soil where the peanut forms.

Peanuts need at least 100 days of warmth, sun and moisture to form a crop. Look for quicker maturing varieties, such as 'Tennessee Red Valencia' and 'Schronce's Black' Spanish type, to grow. Plant in full sun on loose soil, amended with compost and organic fertilizer. Plant now hoping that by late August you'll get peanuts forming before the night time temperatures dip into the 40Fs and peanuts stop growing.

I've grown peanuts on an elevated raised bed to enhance the warmth and protect the nuts from mice. It worked, but last summer was cloudy and cool so I only got a handful of peanuts. This year I'm trying again in a new, unheated greenhouse where I hope the extra warmth will lead to extra peanuts.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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