Arachis - Goober, Groundnut, Peanut
DESCRIPTION: Arachis hypogaea is the botanical name for the Peanut. The Peanut, also called Goober and Groundnut, is a frost-tender annual native to Brazil. Once mainly a warm climate crop, they have gained popularity in home gardens because early-maturing varieties with large seeds have been developed. These attractive plants are neat and resemble clovers. They grow about 12 feet high and 2 feet wide. It produces two kinds of flowers; male (staminate) flowers, which are bright yellow and quite pretty, and female (pistillate) flowers, which are inconspicuous. After the female flowers are fertilized, they turn face down and corkscrew themselves into the ground. Each corkscrew, or peg, grows 1 to 4 Peanuts, 2 to 6 inches underground. The Peanut consists of two to five seeds, which are encased in a papery shell.
POTTING: Peanuts should be grown in full sun, in sandy or sandy loam soil about 12 inches apart, in rows 2 to 22 feet apart. Hilling up the soil around the plants is beneficial, though not necessary; you can grow them closer together if you donít. Bushy types leave spaces between the rows for weeding, but trailing kinds fill these spaces up, so weed while the path is still clear. Once the pods begin to ripen, stop irrigation. Once frost has killed the plants, dig up the plants with a spading fork and air-dry for several days. It would help if you have someone lift and gently shake the plants while you loosen the soil underneath. Don't expect to find all the Peanuts; some will escape and, in warm climates, germinate. You can carefully dig up these small plants and transplant them.
PROPAGATION: Shell out seeds just before planting. When the soil is warm enough, plant the seeds a foot apart in pairs, in rows 2 to 22 feet apart.
VARIETIES: A. hypogaea. Park's Whopper has large seeds; Spanish is an early variety with small seeds; Jumbo Virginia has short pods with large seeds; Florigiant is adapted for the lower South.
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