Last year was a bumper year for Sweet Peas – Gav’s Mum gave me some seedlings from her 2019 sweet pea seeds and they were so good I promised I’d share her tips. I am going to keep it really really simple and not link any special equipment that you don’t need, but make sure you buy the kind that grow tall -one year I accidentally bought trailing patio sweet pea plants – got over excited looking at the display outside Waitrose and didn’t read the label properly haha!
I like a mix of colour and a really strong fragrance. Here is a link to lots of choice over on Thompson & Morgan
Ann uses her seeds year on year so any intel’ on the original type has been lost in the compost of time, so pick a couple of packets you like the look of and hope for the best!
I popped over to visit Ann in her greenhouse and took a few step by step photos of what we can do now in March. (As a rough time line, give or take – Early March if you have a green house, last couple of weeks of March if you are using your windowsill)
Of course there will be lots of ways to do your sweet peas, the head gardener in your family will have their own way, this is just how she does it and she is one of the most green fingered people I know. Her garden is amazing.
…and B Swooooon
- Gather your seeds. Sweet pea seeds are really hard so Ann recommends soaking them in warm water for a few hours before planting to soften them & encourage them to germinate.
2. While the seeds are in the water, fill some seedling pots with compost.
3. Make sure the compost is damp
4. Using a dibber (Ann used the other end of a Sharpie pen that was nearby) make 5 or 6 little holes in the compost about an inch or so deep
5. Take your seeds – 5 or 6 per pot
6. Drop one seed in to each hole
7. Cover with compost and water gently
8. Place in the greenhouse or on a windowsill in your house, somewhere not to hot and not too cold and make sure they don’t dry out, equally do not over water.
9. After 3 or 4 weeks they will look like this
10. Now is the time to snip the tops out – eeek!!! I know it seems scary to snip the tops off your babies but it will encourage more growth and prevent the seedlings becoming leggy resulting in a disappointing yield.
So, here is how to snip and importantly where to snip
Count 2 sets of leaves up from the bottom and snip out the new sprout and leaves at the top
You can see where Ann has snipped the top out in the pic below
Snipping the tops will make your plants lovely and bushy but it feels scary!
11. If you have a cold frame, you can put your plants in there from the end of March/beginning of April for a week or so until the risk of a hard frost has passed. If you are getting fed up with them on the windowsill, come April you can transfer them to a sheltered part of the garden where a frost won’t touch them. They are surprisingly hardy but beware the slugs! We had a late frost or two last year so I covered them at night with garden fleece.
There will be a part two to this blog post as I didn’t take any decent images of how I did it last year – but one thing I tried which worked brilliantly was NOT planting them in a tripod/teepee style, choosing to do what Ann does and plant them in a line. This year I am thinking about planting them in the veggie patch so the flowers will be accessible from each side, although they looked really pretty by the shed. The image directly below was taken on 27th April and they had just been planted, 2 or 3 at the base of each bamboo stick. As soon as they are long enough you can loosely tie them to the cane to encourage them to grow up it. I threaded string across horizontally too and it worked really well.
The more you cut the more they flower – it’s like magic!
Hope that has helped 🙂
Roll on Summer!
As ever, thanks for reading
… up next – Runner Beans if anyone fancies it – my Mum is head of the Runner Bean department.
Let me know in the comments if you’d like a runner bean lesson 🙂