The peanut (Arachis hypogaea), aka the goober (U.S.), pindar (U.S.), monkey nut (U.K.), OR groundnut is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world. It can be eaten raw or used in cooking. Yes! Peanuts are not just used to make peanut butter but are often used as an ingredient in foods such as cookies, cakes, and ice cream.
Peanuts contain protein, fiber, fat and monounsaturated fats that help lower bad cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. They are also good for the heart and may reduce the risk of heart diseases.
About Peanut Plant
People are often surprised to find out that peanuts are not nuts at all. Actually, they are the seeds of a leguminous plant related to peas and beans. The peanut is a member of the Arachis family. The peanut plant is not a hardy perennial, which means it cannot survive in the same spot for more than two years. Every year, it needs to be moved because it becomes susceptible to pests and diseases.
Peanuts begin their lives as seeds inside the pod of the plant. They produce a flower with many small pistils/pistillate flowers when they are ready to bloom. The pistils are pollinated by insects, which are attracted to the sweet scent of the pistils. When the pistils begin to drop their pollen, they make a sticky substance called honeydew that is attractive to ants. The ants carry this honeydew back to their nest, where a species of aphid eat it. Aphids are small insects that can be found on many plants, including beans, corn, and peanuts.
The aphids lay their eggs in the honeydew and begin a new life cycle. This cycle continues until the following spring when peanut pods form once again.
The peanut seed grows inside these pods as it matures over time. Eventually, the pod dries out and splits open at ground level with three or four seeds inside. The seed is a legume, which means it has an edible pod with one seed inside containing nutrients and protein.
How to Grow Your Own Peanuts
Peanuts are easy to grow. If you live in a warm climate, you can grow them from seed or start your own crop of peanuts from a peanut plant or “clone .” In the United States, the best time to plant peanuts is from February through April. You should start seeds indoors in peat pots and transplant them into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Peanuts need full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. They are susceptible to fungal diseases and blights that can be controlled with fungicide-based products.
After planting peanuts, most of them will flower in about six or eight weeks. The flowers are produced along with the runner of vining types and near the ground on a bunch of certain plants. While these plants flower above the soil, the pods are produced below. As the bloom fade, the stem bends down to the ground due to the weight of the pods. Peanuts bloom over several weeks (up to 3 months), and you should expect the pods to mature at different intervals. Each pod can yield 2 to 3 peanuts.
What To Companion Plant With Peanuts
Peanuts are a great companion plant. They are also easy to grow and can be grown in many different kinds of soil. Peanuts will grow well with:
Peanuts are a good companion plant to many vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and melons. These veggies enjoy the same growing conditions as peanuts and are of an ideal height that does not create shade for your peanuts.
Short season-producing crops such as lettuce, spinach, snow peas, and radish are brilliant plants that thrive incredibly well with peanuts. Their production often completes well before peanut plants produce flowers and starts to peg on the soil.
Ideally, it would be best to avoid very tall crops such as corn and pole beans, as they’ll shade your peanut plants, which can inhibit the formation of nuts.
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Peanuts will grow well with many herbs and flowers. This is often attributed to the potently scented oils on the leaves and stems of the plants. They also have the exact growing requirements and will thrive on the same garden as peanuts. Herbs also produce bountiful flowers with scents and colors that welcome insects that help pollinate the peanut flowers.
Flowers like marigold, cosmos, and nasturtium will also attract beneficial insects that eat aphids. Herbs such as mint, parsley, and rosemary are also very effective in repelling aphids. Peanuts can also be grown with raspberries, blackberries, hibiscus, and more.