Sweet peas – sowing

These are perhaps my favourite flowers of all: delicate, abundant and beautifully scented and not easily bought from a florist. I first grew these in a bucket in our London backyard and have grown them with different degrees of success in every garden, patch and allotment since. This year I want to get more accomplished at growing them from seed to cut flower as the strongest scented sweet peas are going to be a main stay of the still developing plot. This is because customers at the farmers’ markets seem to love them as much as me and they sell out every time we have them.

Sweetpeas at end of July - stems getting shorter, but still beautifully scented

Sweetpeas at end of July – stems getting shorter, but still beautifully scented

What I know already has been gathered over the years from reading books and blogs and listening to experts like my flower growing friend who planned meticulously to produce sweet peas for her daughter’s August wedding, planting seeds at different times of the year. What I have learned from experience this year is that growing sweetpeas to sell takes time and more regular attention than most other flowers. A vigorous climbing plant they need solid supports and then tying in and feeding/watering and very regular cutting. Neglect them in their prime, as I did this summer, and they will soon go over.

Sweepea plants last Spring at the plot

Sweepea plants clambering up supports last Summer at the plot

As it is November, I am going to focus on some of the things I am learning about sowing as now is a fine time to do it. Originally decided to plant seeds in October and January (though this is now being extended to November); this was largely down to reading an amazingly detailed and informative blog which painstakingly records the progress of  sweetpeas sown at different times. The hard work put into this is generously helpful. Take a look at:  http://www.pumpkinbeth.com/2015/10/sowing-sweet-peas/

My first sowings this October were of mixed varieties of Sarah Raven seeds using her method of poking two seeds around an inch down into root trainer cells. Click link for her detailed advice.  This method encourages long and healthy roots. With a little bottom heat from the heated propagator in the shed,  most of these seeds soon germinated and were given stern treatment by being moved outside. They are now being tested in the wind and rain without any protection. As soon as the really cold weather comes, they will be put in an unheated cold frame or perhaps covered in fleece if there isn’t room. Sweet peas are tougher than you think.

This month, I am going to try another method described by Matthewman’s Sweetpeas . (Again, click link to read advice in detail). This involves planting seeds in seed trays, again one inch deep and then pricking them out and potting them on into small pots before first leaves unfurl. This is appealing in terms of time saved initially and is also a new approach to me and it will be interesting to see how it works. Helpful advice and healthy seeds also supplied by Roger Parsons, a true expert.

Some of the eeds waiting to be sown

Some of the seeds waiting to be sown

On a wind whirling day, it is cheering to think about the loveliness, scent and colour being set in motion for early next Summer.

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