There's still time to sow - Peas and Beans

There's still time to sow - Peas and Beans

There is nothing like a pea fresh from the pod or a meal of freshly picked dwarf or climbing beans. If you, like me, have only just realised how fast this year is progressing and are somewhat behind with your sowing or planting then it’s not too late to sow peas and climbing, dwarf or runner beans.

I had great plans to sow my first runner beans with my young grandchild last week. His are already planted out in the garden and starting to climb their poles but we ran out of time and I had run out of energy due to a coldy thing!

Recovering from my virus I felt a bit more up to working in the garden yesterday morning and decided to concentrate on sowing rather than planting out. If a seed is not in the ground it won’t grow! That was my thinking!

There is a difference between different varieties of peas and beans when it comes to sowing to harvesting rates. Practically a dwarf variety will come to production quicker than a climbing variety. This means that dwarf french beans are often used as a gap filling crop to make use of the ground left by an early crop such as early potatoes. Some varieties are self fertile so in a poor year may produce a better crop. Some varieties are known for early cropping such as the runner bean Moonlight. Some crops are used when the pods are not fully mature such as with Edamame beans which need about 45 days from sowing to picking young beans for use in salads.

Peas have more defined first earlies, second earlies and maincrop varieties, similar to potatoes. They can all be sown between March and June but the first earlies should be ready for harvest in 12 weeks. Second earlies and maincrop peas take 13-14 and 14-16 weeks respectively.

Peas are often successionally grown being sown every 2-4 weeks from April through to July  to ensure a continuous crop throughout the summer. Some climbing varieties such as Pea Alderman will continue flowering and of course have a longer stem from which to produce flowers and pods. Ensure that you pick regularly to maintain flowering and don’t leave any pods lurking beneath the foliage.

Last year I had good success with dwarf french beans in containers. It kept them off the ground and saved them from slug damage and backsplash on to the beans from heavy rain and watering. I grew Boston and Purple Tepee and they were self supporting and didn’t need any additional help as the rim of the container provided the support they needed. They were also in a sheltered part of the garden and gained warmth from the house.

All of these beans are frost tender. They need to be planted outside after the risk of frost has passed and may continue cropping if regularly picked into September or even October depending on your area.

Slugs can be a problem with both peas and beans especially when crops are young and tender. Mice can take the seeds and young shoots, particularly of peas. Pigeons too are partial to delicate new shoots so protect your crop as necessary!