One of the jobs to think about in your polytunnel in autumn is sowing peas and beans for overwintering in the undercover growing area over the coldest months. If you sow peas and beans in your polytunnel in autumn then you can enjoy a harvest far earlier – often several weeks earlier – than is possible if you plant these legumes in the spring. Thinking ahead now can help make sure that you have plenty of food to eat from your polytunnel all year round. Planting suitable pea and bean varieties in the autumn will allow them to concentrate on forming healthy root systems before the coldest portion of the year, and give them a good head start when active growth begins once more when the weather warms in the spring.
What Peas and Beans Should I Choose For Overwintering?
If you have collected your own peas and beans to sow, then early autumn is a good time to check these over and ascertain whether they are viable. It can be a good idea to soak seeds to check that they sprout before planting, as this can often mean a higher success rate for autumn sown seeds.
If you have not collected your own seeds to sow then you should buy these now, in early autumn. Try to buy from a reputable company, either online or in your local area. You may wish to consider choosing organic seeds, and heritage varieties, to do your bit for the planet.
One general rule to remember when selecting peas for overwintering is that peas which are round and smooth will be better for autumn planting, while those which are wrinkly are best sown in the spring. Some good varieties to plant in autumn are:
- ‘Amelioree d’Auvergne’
- ‘Douce Provence’
- & ‘Meteor’
Though this is by no means an exclusive list.
Broad beans also have varieties that are best planted in either autumn or spring. It is important to make sure that you choose a variety that is suitable for overwintering where you live. Broad bean varieties often sown in autumn in the UK include:
- ‘Aquadulce Claudia’
- & ‘Witkiem Manita’
Again, other options are also available.
If you want to learn more about growing peas and beans in your polytunnel then you should check out of ‘top of the crops’ grow guides and other articles on this site. In our recipes section you will also find inspiration to help you make the most of these crops in the kitchen. Let us know how you fare overwintering peas and beans in your polytunnel in the comments below, and share any tips that you might have for protecting crops in your polytunnel from cold and from pests over the winter months.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.