October is the perfect time to sow peas and beans. They should grow to just over 1ft before winter sets in, the growth will then slow down but when spring arrives they will be off to a head start and will be ready to harvest in early summer.
Sowing in October gives your plants time to establish a strong root system before winter sets in, which allows them to get off to a head start as soon as the ground starts to warm up. Autumn sown peas and beans will usually produce a harvest just over 1 month earlier than those sown in April.
Choose a winter hardy variety - ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is regarded as the best autumn sowing bean and ‘meteor’ is a good choice of pea variety.
Choose a suitable location - Ideally a sheltered location with as much sunlight as possible. Beans are suitable for growing in pots as long as the seeds can be spaced 9” apart. Peas will need much less space and the seeds should be sown 2” apart.
Beans should be spaced 9” apart and 2” deep, although for autumn planting it may be useful to plant an extra inch deep. Peas should also be planted 2-3” deep and spaced 2” apart.
Germination takes around 10 days, & you should cover your seedlings with a cloche until they are established, particularly if there are early frosts.
They should get most of the water they need from the ground, but beware of drying winter winds. If grown in pots they can be watered 1-2 times a week. If the compost in the pot is already wet when you come to water it, do not add any more water as this is likely to result in overwatering.
Your plants will need support from canes as strong winds will cause the stems to move around and split at the base. Tie them in place with Soft-Ties, as these can be loosened when the plant grows taller and does not restrict the plant’s growth. You could construct a windbreak out of horticultural fleece to shelter your plants.
The plants will need very little care throughout the winter other than to check that they have not been damaged by the wind and that they are getting enough water.
If you have any questions about anything you are gorwing or sowing, give one of our Gardening Angels a call on 0845 602 3774 or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.