Did you get round to sowing sweet peas last autumn?…. me neither, but its not too late, they can be sown anytime up until March.
Sweet-peas are the type of plant that represent summer in an English garden for me, I’m looking forward to plenty of softly coloured, sweetly scented blooms, I also like the look of those deeply coloured purple and navy ones.
How to grow sweet peas from seed:
They like a plenty of room for their long roots, some people use root-trainers or the cardboard tube of loo rolls, the tubes are good because of their sustainability, but they do tend to unravel.
Fill the container with multi-purpose soil, water and plant two seeds in each pot.
Cover with a sheet of newspaper, check every day so the newspaper can be taken off as soon as the seedlings appear.
They need a cool place so they don’t grow too quickly, I’ll keep mine in the cold-frame, though space is tight in there.
I’ll pinch out the little growing tip of the stem after three or four pairs of leaves have grown, this encourages them to grow into bushy little plants.
Sweet-peas are half-hardy annuals, so I’ll wait until there’s no sign of frost before I plant them in the garden, this should be around mid-May here in South-East England. I’ll open the lid of the cold-frame each day for a few days to acclimatise them before they’re planted out permanently.
They should be happy in my clay soil, I’ll add plenty of well-rotted manure to a little trench around the base of a tee-pee. This treatment is also good for light, sandy soil, tomato fertiliser will keep them flowering once the plants start flowering.
Gently tease the plants apart if two have grown in one container and plant a couple of plants at the base of each pole, water and tie them in as they grow.
Pick flowers every day, that’s not too much of a chore is it, and cut off any seed pods that form Their mission is to produce seed and once they do that they stop flowering, job done.
More about growing half-hardy annuals from seed here.
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson.