Firstly thanks to everyone for your emails, it’s great to hear all about your garden stories and I promise I will respond to every one personally.
Well, it’s at this time of the year the sweet peas are at their finest. Whenever I need a lift I just wander down to the cut flower bed and breathe in the most amazing scent as the sweet peas perfume wafts up my nose. Just the most heavenly scent in the world, and all from a single packet of seeds. I always think there is something quintessentially English about the Sweet Pea.
I grow my sweet peas in my garden using both the cordon method, so I have some for flower vases in the houses, and I also grow a few over the trellis near the house, so friends and family can enjoy them when we get the barbecue out.
Growing Cordon Sweet Peas
I started the seeds off in January on my window sill, then I pricked them out into 3 1/2 inch pots when they were large enough to handle, ready for planting out in the flower beds in April. When it comes to planting out I keep a few spare plants back, just in case of any non starters.
Growing sweet peas successfully is basically down to three things in my experience:
1. Good ground preparation.
2. Removing unnecessary growth so the plants can focus all its energy on producing flowers.
3. Regular watering, which can be reduced if you mulch after watering.
Everyone has their own method for growing sweet peas, but I’ve used the same method for years, and my dad before me.
I prepare a shallow trench, or large planting hole and back fill with a good mix of compost, well rotted manure and top soil.
Like most cut flower plants, try to get the plants off to a good start by protecting the young plants from the birds with a little netting, at least until they get established. Then, when they are about 4 inches tall pinch out the very tip of the growing point in order to encourage the plant to throw out side shoots. It’s entirely up to you, but I restrict these side shoots to a maximum of 3, which I let grow on and up the canes. I then tie these into the canes and remove any additional side shoots as they appear, along with the tentacles that grow at the end of the branches.
Sounds wasteful, but I also pinch out the first few flowers to give the plants a chance to build a strong root system, and a firm structure ready for all the hard work ahead. Not sure if has any effect, but it seems to work.
After that all I do is keep them watered (Sweet Peas hate dry soil ) and occasionally give them a feed with tomato feed. Oh and another great tip I was once given is, keep cutting the flowers, as the more you cut, the more they grow!
What a plant, and it’s most definitely in my top 5 most favorite flowers.
If you have any gardening story’s you’d like to share, please do feel free to drop me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org as I look forward to hearing from all the other keen gardeners around the globe.