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Serendipity: Improved Peanut Yield
By Cindy Conner

The structure of a peanut plant

Cindy is a certified GROW BIOINTENSIVE Intermediate-Level teacher, author, Permaculture educator, founder of Homeplace Earth and producer of two popular instructional gardening DVDs. She is also the author of Grow a Sustainable Diet.

Does it matter what you grow season after season in the same place in the garden? Does the previous season's crop affect your current crop? Here is my experience with peanut yields following legumes.

I first planted peanuts in my garden in 2006. I carefully work out a rotation plan, using legumes as a boost for the next crop. Since peanuts are legumes, I didn't really think they would get a boost from a preceding legume. In fact, since I try not to plant the same crop family after one another, I planted cereal rye instead of a legume.

In 2011, I changed my garden plan over the winter, which made it necessary to have the peanuts in a bed following the garlic and onion harvest. Sometimes I'll plant two different varieties of a crop in a bed, and when I do, I'll mark the division by putting some sticks in the ground as a visual reminder. When I was digging the peanuts that October, I could see there was a larger harvest in both peanuts and biomass in one-half of the bed. I thought I must be harvesting two different varieties and that the sticks dividing them had somehow disappeared. It turned out it was one variety, and the larger harvest, four times as much, followed the onions, which had been planted in the spring after a winter crop of Austrian winter peas. In 2012, I planted peanuts in a bed following Austrian winter peas and in a bed that had fall-planted onions, garlic, and kale. I achieved a larger harvest, three to four times as much, in the bed with the Austrian winter pea cover crop.

I still need to work on controlling the voles in my garden to increase my peanut yield, but with this experience as a guide, I plan on using the best preceding cover crop in the rotation to try and continue increased yields as an important part of my garden plan. I haven't tried planting peanuts after other legumes, such as clover or fava beans, but it would be interesting to compare. Austrian winter peas seem to be a good choice to me, because it is a legume that can be planted the latest in the fall.

To read more about Cindy, visit or write cconner[at]

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