Tag Archives | Lathyrus

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….




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


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.



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.



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.




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.




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.



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



Sweet Pea Sell Out

 Sweet peas have to be one of my best sellers and they are flowering their little hearts out in the polytunnel at the moment. I spent half the day picking hundreds for the Oxford farmers market tomorrow. If all goes to plan I will have a queue and be sold out in a couple of hours. I follow the winter growing crop with the outdoor sweet peas which are all highly scented Spencer varieties. I have organised an Open Day around them on the 13th June, 'come and pick your own'…..one small problem, the weather has not been kind and the persistently cold spring has rather scuppered my sweet pea plans. Most of them have stubbornly remained the same size as when I planted them, with a slight crispy edge. As I have always grown show-stopping sweet peas, this is a huge blow to my horticultural ego.  There's always something that doesn't come good during a season.

I am trying to console myself with all the other gorgeous flowers we will have for our Open Day (Sunday, 12-5pm): foxgloves, alliums, sweet williams, campanula, poppies, iris, verbascums, stocks and cornflowers. There will also be plenty of plants for sale too.