One of the best things about having a polytunnel is that you can use to to grow food all year round. In early autumn, once the summer crops are done for the year, gaps can be filled with a range of vegetables that can be grown year round. Peas and broad beans are two options that can usually be successfully overwintered in a polytunnel. If you do not already have seeds to sow, now is a good time to get some. Sowing peas and beans at this time of year will mean a much earlier pea and bean harvest early next summer, often weeks in advance of crops sown in spring.
When choosing pea and bean seeds, it is important to choose varieties that are suitable for planting in the autumn rather than in the spring. Peas and beans that are better suited to spring planting will not usually do as well when overwintered – even in a polytunnel.
Broad beans likewise come in different varieties, some ideal for autumn sowing, others better sown in the spring. Here are a few of the varieties you can choose for autumn sowing in the UK:
Sowing and spacing of the autumn planted beans and peas will be just the same as the sowing and spacing of the spring sown ones. Check out the top of the crops guide to find out all you need to know about sowing and growing these crops throughout the year.
Keep your seedlings watered when they get dry but be sure not to over water over the winter months, when they will need far less water and when waterlogged soil could more easily lead to disease and other problems with your plants.
Remember also that you could consider saving seeds from your own peas and broad beans next year. Over time, planting seeds from plants grown in your garden will allow you to rear plants that are perfectly suited to the conditions where you live. So it could be possible to consider that option next year for peas and beans you have grown and want to grow in your polytunnel.