Saturday, May 7, 2016

Peanuts......Home grown.

One thing we plan on growing a lot of this year, now we have room, is Peanuts.
We tried them for the first time in New Castle. We did not have enough room for a lot of them but we tried three Varieties:
Carwhile's White, Schronce's Deep Black and Tennessee Red Valencia.

We ended up with about 10 pounds of real, chemical free home grown snacks. I learned a lot form growing them and I still have to get better at roasting them!

So here is how it went:

Ralph asked me if I wanted to grow peanuts one evening....I looked at him like he was "Nuts". Peanuts, they take way to long and must be really difficult to grow! He replied to me...we live in Virginia...some of the best peanut growing land in the USA!

So we ordered from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. The following information is from their catalog.

Carwhile's Virginia

120 days. [Introduced 1989 by SESE.] Family heirloom from SW Virginia since 1910. Grown by Frank Carwile for over 75 years since he was given this peanut by a traveler when he was 8 years old. He later tried other varieties but found none with a better flavor. 2-4 seeds per pod. Plants have average disease resistance but excellent production and drought resistance.

Schronce's Deep Black

110 days. [Selected since 1980 by NC gardener Gordon Schronce. Seedstock sent by his son Arty.] Black peanut selected for larger seeds with darker (violet-black) skins than Carolina Black and 3-4 seeds per pod. Very productive. Gordon’s favorite way to serve these is to fry up a mix of black and red peanuts in canola oil.
An interesting link about these Black peanuts.

Tennessee Red Valencia

(Valencia Tennessee Red) 110 days. [Pre-1930] Rich, sweet peanuts with red skins. 2-3 seeds/pod. Easy to grow without hilling, even in clay soils. An early variety for those who have trouble maturing Virginia-type peanuts.

It was weird breaking open the peanuts and planting them...first I had to try one...NOT good....they do need roasting!

Ralph prepared a set of three raised rows.

Then we planted them. Not too deep and firmly pressed into the new turned soil.  You can plant them in the hull but it is faster to remove it. Be careful not to remove the paperey husk though. Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep and water weekly.

 Peanuts need full sun. If you have heavy soil, ensure good drainage by working in enough organic matter to make it loose, we had amended this area with lawn clippings and used potting soil.

 The Schronce's Black ready to plant.

 Tennessee Red Valencia sprouting.

 Grass clipping mulch added after the peanuts had sprouted. You can  just see the row of Carwhile's poking up through the soil.

 A healthy young peanut plant. They look a lot like Alfalfa at this stage.

 They grew quite quickly and I was forever out there marveling that we were growing peanuts! Ralph says I am easily amused...

 We planted them on May 29th and this photo was taken on June the 13th.

 June can see a volunteer squash to the right.

 June 25th...just short of a month old. They have small yellow flowers a bit like a violet. They flower at the base of the plant. The honey bees loved them.

 July 8th...They did not get really tall. They did get bushier though. So did the crazy squash!

 August the 3rd. Squash issues but the shade from them seemed to ease the heat stress on the peanut plants, they did not wilt in the heat of afternoon.

 We had added straw mulch at this point to help retain moisture as the weather had turned dry. The peanuts did not like town water and whatever chemicals are in it. They would look pale for a couple of days after a watering with the treated water so we aired buckets of water and hand watered them.

 October 19th we harvested, there was a severe frost warning.
Ideally the tops should have dried on their own. However you can see we had peanuts!

 After pulling them up we set them in the shed to air dry and cure for two weeks.

Here is the 2014 peanut crop. A good size we thought for our first attempt. About 10 pounds.

Now we are finally on our farm and have the room to grow lots of these wonderful plants. They are a healthy snack and we think will be well suited to our vision of growing our own food. This year we are growing the varieties above plus two new additions:

Information from Southern Exposure where we got the seed.

Carolina Black Peanut 

110 days. [Introduced 1999 by SESE from seed sent by Derek Morris.] One of the varieties grown during the 1800s was the African peanut (also known as the N. Carolina peanut). It may have been a black peanut, possibly the same as ‘Carolina Black.’ According to food historian William Woys Weaver, the black peanut may have been used as a substitute for Black Bambarra (African ground nut) by the black community. Black Bambarra is important in African folk medicine as an aphrodisiac. The N. Carolina climate won’t support black Bambarra, but black pea- nuts grow there without difficulty. Carolina Black produces sweet-tasting, black-skinned peanuts that are slightly larger than Spanish peanuts. 2-3 seeds/ pod

Texas Red and White peanut

 110 days. [Peanut said to have been developed in the school colors by a Texas university for selling at football games. Seed given to Ron Thuma by friends in Andover, KS.] Seeds have lovely red-and-white streaked skins. 2-4 seeds/pod, compact 3-ft. plants grow well in heavy clay soil.

It is always a plus when the food you grow is pretty to look at and tastes marvelous. I will take you through the harvesting and roasting steps for the 2016 peanut adventures this fall, God willing and we get a good crop. 
Life is so full of marvelous things don't be afraid of trying things you have not done before. 

God Bless and be safe!


  1. When I was a kid, my Dad tried growing peanuts in our central Minnesota garden, with good results. He did nothing special - just planted the seeds in the ground and watered them once in a while. Considering our short growing season, I am surprised he got a crop at all.

    1. I think thats why we should try things. I know on my old place I had a 90 day growing season..on average. On year I had 110 days frost free and the last garden I had there was 72 frost free days. I think you can start peanuts in those peat pellets and get a bit of a jump on the season. We didn't do much to these, we consider them a low maintenance crop! With yummy results:)

  2. i cannot wait to try growing peanuts! thanks Fiona and keep us posted throughout the season!

    sending love. your friend,

    1. I will and in the fall will follow the steps of harvest, curing and roasting.

      How long is your growing season?

  3. Fiona - we can grow "proper" from may until end september in the greenhouse with no chance of frost.

    please take us through all the steps of growing is so much better to learn from blogging friends than just people you don't know/don't know if you can trust from the internet.

    thanks Fiona. sending love. your friend,

    1. I have to say the peanuts were disturbingly easy to grow. Plant, water, wait, harvest, roast, eat! Did you read our post about growing ginger, It was called Thankful for an Adventurous Gardener. I think with your green house you could grow peanuts, at least enough for a real treat. I am sure you could do ginger if you let it go dormant inside your 'Manor' :)

  4. Amazing! I think our ground would be too wet but it might be worth a go one year!

    1. I think they would do well...they are grown throughout the Southerns states and Virginia gets 41" of rain a year and were we are now in Kentucky gets about 45".

  5. I am so impressed! With our 60 day growing season these would be impossible, even with a greenhouse. But I enjoy watching your garden grow. If we weren't so entrenched here I would look to moving to KY. Beautiful area.

    1. I am loving it. The variety of food we can grow is unreal. However we do have things like BUGS! It gets too hot for Irish Potatoes early and Rhubarb hates the heat. There is always a trade off. If you ever get to Kenntucky:)

  6. I would love to grow peanuts! Like growing potatoes, it's a treasure hunt at harvest time. I grew sweet potatoes a couple of years ago and, although the harvest was small - it was such a thrill to dig them up!

  7. Yes its like was SO cool to see the peanuts....and they looked like peanuts!

  8. I did not know we could grow peanuts here!

  9. Well we are going to try them. The season here is long enough and we are really sheep like peanuts?:)

  10. Of the three varieties (Carwile, schronce and Valencia), which grew the best / was most productive?



    1. The Schronce yielded the most peanuts per plant with three or 4 ‘nuts’ per pod. The Carwile roasted the best of the three. I am still [3 years later] trying to perfect my roasting process. Some batches are better than others.
      However we grow the Texas Red and White predominately now. They seem to really like this area. I mix batches of the Carwhile, Schronce and Texas Red and White as shelled nuts, the flavor and color of these three make super snacks and look great.