When we travel to Nok’s village we often see beautiful beds of growing peanuts, it’s one of the regular crops up there, the plants look great, the soil completely clear of any weeds, thanks to the regular use of chemical fertilizer and weed killer, it’s easy and gives instant results, but it’s something we don’t do here, so we have to find alternative solutions to reduce the workload without destroying the soil. The photos above detail the system we used this time.
After raking the soil lightly, we broadcast sunn hemp seeds following a heavy down pour. In the hot season the cover crop is ready to be cut down after around thirty days, or whenever the first flowers appear. There are some weeds underneath, but not that many as the sunn hemp has taken most of the sunlight away.
We clear the sunn hemp aside and dig planting holes, apply some cow manure and drop the peanut seeds, three or four in each hole. After filling back the planting holes we rake the cut sunn hemp back as mulch, the soil is still damp from a recent rain shower, so nothing else needs to be done. The whole process takes two people about one hour per bed, each bed is about fifteen metres long, it is good to do it all in one day, so that the mulch is still green when we put it back on.
The peanut seeds take about a week to germinate, after three weeks they are growing well, as you can see from the last photo some weeds are beginning to appear in the beds, the grass in between we will cut with a strimmer.
If we time it right we can weed just once, when the plants have grown a bit more, maybe in about ten days or so, after that the peanut plants themselves will provide enough shade that little further weeding should be necessary.