Who’s up for joining us in a bit of fun and growing Sweet Peas this year, whilst sharing updates of the thrills and spills along the way with the wonderful SowandSo community?
More than that, who’s up for designing and making their own plant support system using as many recycled components as possible?
Be imaginative and make it as whacky or if you prefer as conventional as you like …no matter, as long as it does the job and is still standing at the end of the season! Laila and I will publish photos of your creations, as well as our own, on the website on Tuesday 1 April. You can share your constructions via Facebook, Google+, Pinterest or Twitter. Or leave a comment with a link to share with us directly (plenty of choice, just let us know).
Interested? We KNEW you would be!
Just in case you haven’t grown them before, here are a few pointers to help you along your way courtessey of www.sweetpeas.org.uk. Also check out Laila‘s sweet pea low down, published on Sow and So last spring.
Now get ready for what’s guaranteed to be a fun, floral adventure!
January to February
To get a head start and possibly early flowering, plant your seeds in pots or similar now. At the Villas, we have used a combination of toilet roll inner tubes and newspaper pots – it saves disturbing the tender young roots later when planting out …and is recycling at its best!
Your seedlings may need a little gentle heat to germinate but make sure you stop the heat as soon as germination has occurred, otherwise your plants will get leggy. When the first four leaves have formed, nip out the top two leaves to encourage bushiness. Don’t forget to keep your plants moist if the weather is dry.
March to April
Time to plant out, bearing in mind Sweet Peas perform best in an open sunny site. Be guided by local weather conditions and not the calendar. However, if the ground is cold and-or very wet it is best to wait. Sweet Peas benefit from well cultivated soil and adding a little well-rotted manure or organic compost may be beneficial.
Take care not to overdo it though. Heavy soil will benefit from autumn preparation whilst the lightest soils should be prepared for planting in late winter/early spring. If you prefer, you can plant seeds straight in the ground where you want them to grow now – the plants will soon catch up.
May to June
Enjoy the flowers which start to appear from late May to early June. To prolong flowering ensure that the flowers do not set seed, take the flowers into the house and enjoy their scent. If they set seed, flowering will be curtailed.
July to August
Water if the weather is dry but make sure you do this early on in the day to minimise bud drop and to prevent scorching. If your plants look like they’re starting to struggle a bit, feed with a weak solution of your favourite plant food – something formulated for flowers.
Be supportive! Cordon or au naturelle?
For plants you wish to grow using the cordon method, plant out your seedlings 8 to15 inches (20 to 38cm) apart in rows in March or April (in the UK) in your previously prepared site. Each plant will have its own cane to grow up.
If you want to grow your plants au naturelle (termed ‘on the bush‘) set plants 8 to12 inches (20 to 30cm) apart and give them something to scramble up such as pea netting , or string or raffia for the tendrils to catch on to.
…and finally, don’t forget protection (at least in the early days) against slugs, snails and birds, that is if they are a problem in your neck of the woods.
Bonne chance and remember to keep us posted on your progress – we can’t wait to see your photos!