Successional growing – staggering the sowing and planting of crops – is a great way of to extending the harvest over a longer period and avoiding those “help, I’ve run out of chutney recipes” gluts.
It tends to work best either with fast-maturing crops like salad leaves or radishes which, with a bit of experience and also luck, can be sown every few weeks so that just as one batch has been harvested, the next ought to be ready to pick. But it doesn’t always work for slower-growing crops, which can often just sulk when the weather is poor and then put on a burst of growth and catch up when the weather improves. I’m thinking beans, courgettes, that sort of thing.
Another successional method, which does work well for slower-maturing crops, is to extend the season by over-wintering hardier varieties; sow and plant out in autumn, provide protection against winter frosts and/or rain, then watch them grow like the clappers as soon as spring rolls around.
Last year, we tried over-wintering a batch of broad beans. We planted out 20 ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ – a recommended hardy variety – under enviromesh, and only lost two to the winter weather. Here they are just a week or so ago:
They’ve already flowered and are setting beans, and we’ve been picking the leafy tops as a bonus veg crop as well.
We then sowed another batch – this time a mixture of ‘Aquadulce Claudia’, ‘The Sutton’, ‘Rd Epicure’ and a mangetout variety called ‘Stereo’ – and planted them out in mid-April. Here they are in a pic taken at the same time as the above:
They’re just about starting to flower but they’re a good few weeks behind the over-wintered batch. That should mean the beans are ripe much later, so we might have had a chance to eat all the over-wintered ones before the new ones are ready.
Other crops with cultivars that over-winter well, or that can be harvested in the winter months, include onions, cabbages, kale, leeks, peas, sprouting broccoli, brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots and of course garlic. We always plant our garlic and elephant garlic cloves in September as a couple of sharp winter frosts will help the bulbs to form properly. The same goes for strawberries; the best time to plant them out is in the Autumn.
How about you? What have you over-wintered from last year and is it doing well? Let me know via the comments, below.
4 replies on “Over-wintered and Spring-Sown Broad Beans”
I missed the autumn sowing window and instead sowed two varieties at the same time in spring hoping that one will take longer than the other to mature. A bit of wishful thinking!
Well, you never know, one of them might be a little slower’growing than the other… either that or you’ll be eating a lot of broad bean dip in a few weeks 🙂
I have tried overwintering broad beans but with little success. They just don’t thrive! Grown in the greenhouse early spring & planted out in April I am always successful.
Hi Margaret – I must admit, that’s the way I’ve done them for the past two or three years as well (although only because I keep forgetting to sow them in the Autumn…)
I think over-wintering success is always going to depend on your local conditions, what sort of winter you have, whether they’re sheltered or exposed and so forth. I wouldn’t have fancied their chances this past winter. A mild December would have meant lots of new growth that could well have been blasted by our February frosts. Although of course, there’s always horticultural fleece, which can help.