The Late Show – Ignoring Seed Packets

Sometimes, I get asked for advice about growing veg (I know, I can’t believe it either, although most people only ask once!).

One of the things I always say goes along the lines of ‘buy some seed packets, and follow what it says on the back’. It might seem disorganised and flighty, but sticking seeds in the ground and watching what happens is fun, and without the fun, many of us would give up.

However, in today’s post I’m going to go against what I’ve said, and make the following statement:

Ignore the seed packets.

Not all of them, just some of the instructions on some of the packets, and specifically, sowing times.

Accidental September Harvests
For the last couple of years, I’ve been sowing peas, mangetout, and French beans all the way through the summer, right up until September. This wasn’t an experiment to see how late I could get harvests or any exciting project like that, but simply because I didn’t read the seed packets properly. I just presumed you could sow these veg well past June.

On closer inspection, my peas (Hurst Green Shaft) and my mangetout (Reizensuiker) say they should be sown outside between March and June, while my French Beans (Maxi) are April to June.

I only realised that this year. The last two summers have given me almost accidental crops into September (the picture is of peas flowering in October last year). This week, I’ve sown peas, mangetout, and French beans in an attempt to repeat the trick.

Freezing the Late Crops
The beauty of these green beany veg is that they freeze really well, and the reason I sowed them before was to fill up unused space on the plot. I couldn’t keep up with the French beans, which seem to love my soil, so I froze them. This year I’m going to try and get as many late peas and mangetout as French beans, which will make a nice change in the middle of winter when all I’ve got to harvest is rooty veg and leafy greens.

Several rows and containers of these seeds will go in to try and grab myself a catch crop before the clocks change. I’m effectively using up old seeds, and bare, spare space, so everyone’s a winner.

Planting Runners Now?
I might also try late sowing of runner beans. I’ve got half a pack of Scarlet Emperor burning a hole in my seed tin. It may be too late for these, but seeds germinate quickly this time of year so who knows, I might sneak a little harvest.

Of course, Sod’s law will probably dictate that now I’m planning late crops, I won’t actually get any…

Fingers crossed for an Indian summer, eh?

4 thoughts on “The Late Show – Ignoring Seed Packets”

  1. I agree with ignoring the seed packet sowing times, I really wanted to sow pumpkins this year but it said on the packet last sowing May. I ignored it and sowed anyway, I’m thinking I will just get a later harvest.

    The best way to get a few surprises is just sow any spare seeds and see what happens, this is how I got my purple sprouting broccoli this year!

  2. i do this every year , sometimes you strike lucky sometimes you dont but its always worth a go

  3. I am into extending the seasons. What I find is that French beans it is really hard to do so as seeds sown early suffer from damping off and the plants from winter frost and wind and late in the year lack of sunlight and hence productivity. Obviously dwarf French beans such as Purple Tepee are much quicker than climbing ones so crop early. Also Purple Tepee has more resistance to damping off than white seeds.

    Because French bean season is limited I grow mangetout at the start of the season and towards the end and French beans in the middle. Doing this also avoids the fly infection Mangetout get in the middle of the season. Have to say I love Mangetout and grow 3 types including a purple one. They are also really quite expensive in the shops.

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