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Growing sweet peas, still loads of time.


 
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James Kilkelly, was GPI.
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Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 2009
Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:59 pm    Post subject: Growing sweet peas, still loads of time. Reply with quote


Beautiful pastel colours from sweet pea, photo / picture / image.


As an easy-grow flower to offer cuttings for your house it's hard to beat the sweet pea. Their rapid growth rate, vibrant colours, and candy-like scent have made them firm favourites ever since their crossbreeding and development in late Victorian era. For those days that you don't have time to get out into the garden, just inhaling the fragrance of cut sweet pea transports you outdoors.

They are ideally suited to our climate too, as they prefer cool temperatures and require plenty of moisture to thrive. Add in a fair dash of sunshine, and it's "game on".

Whether you want to grow them for cottage garden decoration, home decoration, or a bit of both, then now is the time to get your sweet pea in. You have two options, pot or tray grow plants from your local garden centre, or else start your own plants from seed. There is still a load of time for both.

Soil preparation and sowing.
Whether you are growing from seed or from young plants the incorporation of well-rotted compost to at least a spades depth is vital on all soils growing sweet peas. You will need to add approx a bucketful of this per square metre to increase the supply of food to your plants and retain water at their roots. Ideally, this soil amendment should be carried out at least two or three months before sowing to allow soil settlement.

The pea seeds can be sown where they are to grow during April and May. Seeds should be planted by trowel, 13mm (1/2 inch) deep and 20cm (8in) apart. I will often sow with a few extra backup seeds sown at the end of the row or within pots to replace any failed germinators.

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Most sweet pea varieties will grow to about 2m (6ft) tall and unless supported will just sprawl across the ground, so therefore they require support to this height. A capital "A" shaped arch can be created by criss-crossing supports and lashing them together at the top, some eight-foot tall hazel/willow branches or bamboo canes are ideal for this purpose. Be aware that this structure must be very secure to cope with all the peas foliage on a wet and windy day.

To create a summer focal point there are extremely decorative garden obelisks available to buy now in garden centres and hardware stores. These upright 4-sided or inverted cone shaped structures, usually woven from willow, look great clothed in sweet pea blossom. If space is limited within your site, your sweet peas can also be grown on an existing fence or wall, once some sheep wire is securely attached to it.

Encourage sweet pea growth.
Whichever form of support you choose, there are things you can do to encourage your sweet peas to begin their long climb to the top, for example, I suggest you offer them some horticultural twine to cling to. Twine or string tied about half way up the supports, winding its way down the poles, will give the peas tendrils more to grab hold of initially. You may also use some of this string, in the beginning, to tie the bean plants loosely to their supports.

As I mentioned earlier your sweet peas require a plentiful supply of water right throughout their life, but especially when the flowers form. As a rough rule of thumb, the plants will require one watering can (10 litres) of water per square metre, twice a week in dry weather. This water applied slowly, combined with the well-rotted compost you dug in during soil preparation, will be enough to soak the plants roots ensuring a colourful and fragrant summer.

Before I go, let me share with you my top tip when growing sweet peas...
Once the plants are 10cm (4 inches) high you should pinch out the tops of the plants just above a leaf joint. This simple step encourages vigorous side shoots which means you end up with bushy, flower laden plants.
Enjoy.

Any queries or comments on Growing sweet peas, still loads of time, please post below.

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