I like to direct sow mine, usually in early June after the soil has warmed. I’ve tried both transplanting and direct sowing, and found that the transplanted peanuts quickly outgrow their pots and really don’t like getting root bound. The advantage to transplanting is you can give them a head start, which might be important in short season areas. But here in the Annapolis Valley I’ve had better luck direct sowing.
The plants need similar spacing to bush beans, about 3-4” apart, and at least 12-18” between rows. I plant mine two rows to a 3‘ bed.
Peanuts form small leafy plants, growing up to knee high in fertile soil. In mid-summer small yellow flowers emerge near the stems, which quickly develop into pegs that reach down into the soil. It’s on these pegs that the pods form, kind of like subterranean bean pods. So it’s not truly a root crop, the pods grow off the stems just like other legumes.
The pods keep on maturing and filling out throughout the fall, so the longer they can stay in the ground the better. Covering the plants from light frosts in early Fall would help extend their season, and result in more full pods. I harvest mine as soon as the tops are killed after good frost, usually in early-mid October.
Loosen the soil around the plants with a fork, and pull them out on a dry day. After I shake off the extra soil, I tie the plants into bunches (maybe 10 plants to a bunch) and hang them to cure in the barn. Make sure to cure them somewhere squirrels and blue jays can’t reach them, peanuts are a hot commodity among wildlife. We lost nearly our whole crop that way once.
The curing process is slow. I usually leave them hanging for 2-3 weeks before picking the solid and plump pods off, leaving the empty ones. I then cure them spread thin on trays in the house. Make sure the pods have good air circulation, even if they seem mostly dry they can quickly mold at this stage. Over 2 months of curing they change from juicy and tasting like a pea at harvest time, to sweet and nutty like a mature peanut!