How to grow Peas and Beans

Runner beans germinated in root trainers

All the pea and bean family, Broad Beans, Runner Beans, Peas and French Beans are an easy and rewarding crop to grow. These are great vegetables to get children interested in gardening, because they shoot up quickly, they are trouble free and fun to pick. Also, if you want to try germinating your own plants from seed, Runner beans, French Beans and Broad beans are a good place to start as they are easy to germinate and are economical to grow from seed. Each of these beans are different in terms of growing conditions, how they climb, their hardiness and they each have different growing requirements. Even so all are easy to germinate from seed so a good veg to start with if you have not germinated plants before.  Broadly speaking the toughest and hardiest are the broad beans, then runners beans, Peas, and French beans need the most warmth and sun to crop well.  All beans germinate quickly in the right conditions the beans will emerge within 5-7 days of sowing.

All beans like a long root run and are best germinated in either into specially purchased root trainers, image left, or cheaper, toilet roll holders. 

Sow in the order you will plant out: Broad beans, Peas, Runner beans and then French beans.

If you do not have space to germinate and grow on the young plants under glass/insider, you can sow directly into the veg plot in May or buy small plants from the garden centres. If you sow directly into the plot, beware of mice who will eat the seed. 

Plants grown from seed will need to be hardened off before planting outside. This is because the small plants have been cossetted in a greenhouse or on window sill in relatively sheltered conditions and need to be gradually accustomed to the outside climate. Place outside on mild days during the day and bring in on cool nights gradually increasing the time outside. Always pprotect  French beans and Runner beans from frost by covering with cloche or fleece. 

Treat the different types of beans differently; Broad beans are more hardy and will withstand some chilly weather, Runner beans a bit less so but will take it cooler, and French beans are very cold sensitive and really hate chilly winds. 

To avoid gluts plant successively, which means plant out new plants or sow into pots/directly into the soil every 2 weeks. In theory this means plants come to cropping every two weeks but the weather conditions can interrupt this carefully laid plan.

For more detailed information and tips on growing Broad BeansRunner Beans and Peas

Video advise how to sow and germinate from seed.

video on how to plant broad beans and runner beans

green wheelbarrow easy to grow

All members of the pea and bean family are easy to grow and generally speak fast growing.  Broad beans, Runner beans, Peas and French Beans are all Green Wheelbarrow

Time table for Growing Beans

This is a guide when to germinate indoors, and when to sow outdoors and planting out times for the various types of Beans and Peas.  The precise timetable will vary depending on the seasonal weather and the aspect of your veg plot.


Germinate seeds under glass in the warm. Start with Broad beans, which can be planted out the earliest, then Runner Beans and later in April French Beans. Seeds need warmth to germinate and so  place on warm windowsill, heated greenhouse or use a heated mat. Place in root trainers or small but deep pots/toilet roll holders cover lightly with soil and place in a propagator/ cover but do not exclude light, see video above. Once the seeds have germinated and the plant emerges, remove from the heat so that the plant doesn't grow sappy and keep in all round light to prevent it becoming spindly.  All round light means is either a greenhouse, conservatory or if growing on a window sill rotate regularly to ensure even light and growth. This is important although a bit of faff. Plants will always grow towards the light and if the light source is just from one side, as can be the case on a windowsill, the seedling can get a bit lopsided. Do not be tempted to start germination too early because if the light levels are low, the seedlings will become spindly reaching for the light. if this happens it can be overcome when you pot on the seedling by sinking a large part of the spindly stem under the soil and plant it deep. 

Grow on in Pots to provide sturdy plants for planting out later in the spring. You can skip this stage and sow direct into the veg plot in May see below

Broad beans are fairly hardy and can be planted out once hardened off. There are in fact some varieties which can be autumn sown and overwintered in more sheltered areas of the UK.


Continue to germinate Broad and runner  Beans to have plants for successive cropping later in year.


Time to start germinating French Beans which are more cold sensitive and need to be planted out last. In warmer parts of the country/sheltered plots plant out  Runner beans with frost protection


By May you can sow direct outdoors Broad beans and Runner beans into the veg plot with protection in the event of frost. Later in month sow and / or plant out French beans with frost protection.

Later in the growing season May/June/July  you can sow the  seed directly into the ground when the soil is warmer. Raising the soil temperature varies around the country and with the weather conditions but late April/ May/June rather than March.

May /June

After hardening off plant out all pot grown beans and start to germinate directly outside


Continue sowing all types of beans directly into the warm veg plot until July.


Links to Growing Broad BeansRunner Beans and Peas