When most people think of peanuts, they think of roasted, salty treats that come from the snack aisle. But where did they grow before that? Peanuts aren’t as foreign as you may think—you can even grow them in your own backyard.
Ernie Racz, “Head Nut” at Kernal Peanuts in Vittoria, Ontario, says peanuts are actually fairly easy to grow in Canada. He and his wife Nancy have been growing them since 1976.
There are four varieties of peanuts (Valencia, Spanish, Virginia and Runner), but only Valencia peanuts are typically grown in Canada and they’re the only type grown commercially in Ontario. They mature earlier than other varieties and are the best choice for Canadian gardeners. Racz says they’re medium sized and the sweetest variety, too.
Here’s what you need to know to grow your own peanuts:
Starting your peanuts
All you need to start is an unroasted peanut with its skin still on. You can get these from some Canadian seed companies, including OSC Seeds.
Plant the peanut, skin and all, about 1/2 an inch deep in May, when the ground reaches about 70 degrees Celsius.
Racz says you can start plants indoors, but it’s not imperative. Your plants will mature in about 120 days.
Where to grow peanuts
Peanuts want to grow in loose, sandy soil that drains well and holds warmth. They need plenty of sunshine, so grow them in full sun. “They’ll take a lot of hot, dry weather,” says Racz. “But they don’t like to get their feet wet for a long time.”
It’s also important to give each plant plenty of space to grow. In about June, says Racz, you’ll start to see yellow flowers appear. These will self-pollinate and then your peanut plant will start to send pegs down into the ground. A peanut pod will grow at the end of each peg, and your plant will continue to send these down until the first frost.
Keep the soil around your peanut plants weed-free so the pegs can grow properly. Too many weeds can reduce your overall yield.
Peanuts will fix their own nitrogen, so you don’t need to worry about fertilizing them.