Now I know this is a bit overdue and you have probably all planted your Sweet Peas by now but I thought I had better finish what I started!
Our Sweet Peas were planted out last month 20-25cm apart staggered either side of the bean netting. They had been well hardened off for two weeks prior to planting and given a good seaweed feed a couple of days beforehand.
Once the plants were in, we laid out some irrigation. Sweet Peas like a cool moist root run so we use 2 lines of drip tape and ensure they do not dry out during flowering as this really hits production. We finished off with a mulch of straw in the path, this helps to keep the all important moisture in but is also useful if a frost is forecast in the next few days. Despite being hardy and making it through the winter unheated, young transplants can be killed off or checked by a sharp frost. We simply push the straw up against the plants and pull it back again in the morning, it is much easier to deal with than horticultural fleece once netting is involved.
Slugs can also be a major problem at this stage, we use Ferramol (wildlife friendly) for the first couple of weeks if conditions are wet until they have toughened up and become less appetising.
Now your plants may look rather sad at first, a bit yellow, slightly frosted and slug chewed…well mine did anyway. I don’t worry about it any more as I know they are quietly putting down lots of roots and will burst forth with green abundance when they are ready. This usually takes a good 3-4 weeks.
Once they start to grow away they must be tied in to encourage them up the bean netting or the support of your choice rather than off horizontally across the garden. I am a big fan of the tape tool (Max Tapener) – no fiddling around with string or rings.
I do not trim tendrils and find if you are growing bush style you will end up with a few kinky stems but as long as you keep up with picking and deadheading it will not be too much of a problem.
Once the plants start to flower begin feeding with a high potash feed once a week, we use our own homemade comfrey brew and a dilutor.
The most important thing about Sweet Peas is that they must be picked regularly to keep them flowering. I try to go through mine every three days, ruthlessly deadheading. Feeding and regular picking will help to keep the stems long for as long as possible.
We ran our Sweet Pea masterclass last week which was brilliantly timed for our indoor harvest. I sent everyone off into the polytunnel to pick a bucket of sweet peas.
Watching everyone enjoying the experience has given me an idea…watch this blog for an invitation to Flower Club – a monthly pick you own and arranging session here at the garden…