Archive | Sweet Peas

Sweet Pea Grow Along – Part 3

Your carefully sown seeds should be showing some signs of life by now. Remember to keep them cool and bright as they start to grow.

The next job is preparing the ground outside, probably not terribly appealing right now unless you are outside the UK!  If your ground is too wet to dig, a mulch of compost would be better than nothing at the moment. Sweet peas like a rich, moisture-retentive soil.

They prefer an open, sunny position,  so avoid anywhere that is in shade for more than a couple of hours a day.

I plant in long 25m rows so I can have an overwhelming quantity to harvest. If you are planning on something smaller, a teepee/wigmam is attractive (made from hazel or older bamboo canes). Sweet peas must be picked or dead headed to keep flowering. I find it hard to reach the flowers in the centre of a teepee, which can make this task a bit of a chore.

I also do not enjoy tying in, as it is far too labour intensive. I find bean netting offers enough support for sweet peas to do most of this bit themselves. It is cheap, quick to erect and creates a veritable wall of scent once the netting is clothed with Sweet Peas. Here is a picture of our indoor sweet peas at this time last year. Note the sunshine….

 

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Here’s how we prepare our rows. Ground is dug over (ideally in the autumn) with plenty of well rotted FYM. Stout 2.4m posts are banged in at intervals, approx. 3-4m apart. A hole is drilled through the top of each post, wire (electric fence wire) is threaded through and at the same time woven through the top of the netting and tied as taut as you can . Think of it like hanging a simple curtain,  with the bean netting secured to the post using a staple gun to stop any wafting about. Depending on the length of your rows, your end rows may need bracing with a post section notched in and dug into the ground.

 

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This picture was taken by Shannon Robinson last year, when we let the public pick their own. Our next installment will cover hardening off and planting.

Rachel Siegfried

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Sweet Pea Grow Along – Part 2

Hello Everyone and welcome to the second instalment of our Grow Along.

Hopefully you now  have your seeds, composts and deep pots or rootrainers at the ready.

 

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Firstly, do not concern yourself with pre-soaking, chitting or scarifying your seeds. I find a really good watering in and a bit of warmth is enough to get your seeds germinating quickly.

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Fill your pots with compost mixed with vermiculite, about 3 parts compost to 1 part vermiculite.

Using a dibber, pencil or any other pointy implement, dib a hole about 2.5cm/1 inch deep. Drop in your seed and give it a little prod to ensure it is at the bottom of the hole.

 

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Fill in the holes and label with the variety and date before watering gently from above or soaking in a tray.

 

The next step is to find somewhere warm (and mouse free), if you have a heat mat or propagator that’s perfect. Otherwise try an airing cupboard or near a radiator. Don’t worry they won’t be there long – as soon as you see a shoot, move the pots into a cool, bright position.

 

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At this point, cold and brigh conditions are what you want – I use an unheated greenhouse. Your aim is to grow stocky plants with lots of roots, so you can treat them mean. If it gets really cold (below minus 3-4 degrees C) they will need some protection, either turn on the greenhouse heater, cover them with horticultural fleece or bring them indoors.

Pinch out the growing tip when they have 3-4 pairs of leaves. This will encourage a side shoot to grow and create a bushy plant.

 

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Keep your plants on the dry side during these winter months, I usually water them every couple of weeks.

 

Ground preparation is probably out of the question at the moment if your ground is as waterlogged as ours. So let’s get on to that with the next post.

 

Rachel Siegfried

 

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Sweet Pea Grow Along

A new year and lots of new ideas, I love January – so much time and headspace to day dream about the next season. Fuelled by glossy seed catalogues and home-baked cakes my imagination goes into overdrive. Most of my ideas will be shelved for another year, but a few filter through into reality…

One of these is to offer more training for new flower growers and encourage people to grow cut flowers in their own gardens. The Great British Garden Revival  reinforced my resolve so I thought I would start the new year with a ‘Sweet Pea Grow Along’.

 

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What is a Grow Along?

It is just a way to guide you through growing a particular flower with regular blog posts and/or tweets. Anyone can join in, share their experience and results with others. If this one is a success I might choose a few more favourites to grow along with everyone.

If you want to take it to the next level,  have a look at our Sweet Pea masterclass.

 

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How it will work?

I have decided that Sweet Peas are an ideal flower to start with: everyone loves them, they do not need loads of space or high tech equipment. They are easy to grow but need a bit of extra skill and knowledge to grow to cut flower quality.

 

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Each month I will post a blog entitled Sweet Pea Grow Along, it will include a photographic tutorial of what to do next and I will encourage comments and feedback from everyone taking part. If you want to be reminded of when to check the blog,  join us on Twitter @GandGorgeous

 

What will you need?

Firstly some seeds. We are going to grow Spencer varieties, which have lovely long stems, big frilly flowers and of course lots of scent. They come in an array of colours, I will recommend my favourites for cutting.

 

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Buying your sweet peas from a reputable supplier is highly recommended,  so no garden centre packs!

I always use Owl Acre, they are sweet pea specialists and have a great range. I am a big fan of single colour packets so you have full control over your colour mix. They come in packs of 20 which is enough for one teepee/wigwam.

I have been trialling sweet peas for 12 years now and these varieties are my favourites for vigour, stem length, abundance of flower, vibrant colour and fragrance.

 

Limelight (creamy green)

Oban Bay (ice blue)

Oban Bay & Limelight

 

Gwendoline (rose pink)

Our Harry (mid blue)

Dark Passion (deep purple)

White Frills (pure white and very frilly)

Valerie Harrod (coral)

Anniversary (pink picotee)

Sir Jimmy Shand (lilac ripple)

 

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Next you will need some good deep pots or rootrainers. Sweet peas like a long root run and have a mass of roots, that is why people sometimes use loo rolls. I favour rootrainers which you can buy quite widely now, at Haxnicks for example.

 

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I use a good quality seed compost with added vermiculite.

The next blog will be about sowing, ground preparation and supports, which I plan to do next month.

 

Rachel Siegfried

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