Sunday, January 12

Sweet peas

We've grown sweet peas on the plot for as long as I can remember. As is usual for us we haven't really followed the rules that are supposedly required to achieve success but the only thing that prevented us from having a vase of sweet peas in the house for most of the summer was when they were infested with pollen beetles.

We don't sow our sweet pea seeds until spring, last year the seeds were sown on 8 April in ordinary modules - not those deep rooted ones. Four trays of 15 cells each were planted with two seeds.

Most of the seeds germinated after ten days. We left both seedlings to grow on - no way are we discarding healthy seedlings! The tops of the seedlings were nipped out in May to promote bushiness and on 3 June the small plants were planted out.
We put down weed control fabric and cut a 'trench' in it. The plants were planted along the trench and hazel branches were used to form a climbing structure. We had coppiced one of our two hazels during winter so had plenty long 'poles'. This year the second bush will be coppiced to provide more 'building' materials.


Well rotted manure was spread on the fabric to act as a mulch and also to give protection to the fabric against UV. Holes were cut in the fabric in front of the sweet peas and squash and cucumbers plants were planted through.The cucumbers were trained up the hazel poles in the photo above.
Other than that the plants were just left to do their thing - no removing tendrils etc. - we just wanted cut flowers not prize blooms.
No weeding was done - although the squash plants did trespass into the sweet pea area but no harm was done. If anything it may have helped shade the roots. As the squash plants were actually planted some distance away they shouldn't have out competed the sweet peas for moisture.
To say that we had a dry summer, the sweet peas did really well and provided us will picking material from 11 July until 24 October. I think maybe the weed control fabric helped reduce evaporation and the lack of weeds also meant the sweet peas didn't have unwelcome competition for what moisture there was.

Once flowering was underway we just had to make sure we kept picking as any seeds set would summon an end to flower production. In effect the plant would consider that its job was done. It must be very frustrating for a plant to keep having its seed production efforts thwarted!
In the past we have always bought mixed variety packs of sweet peas and have been really pleased with the results. I always go for the perfumed varieties as I can't imagine picking a posy of scentless sweet peas. 

Sweet Pea  Kings Chelsea Scented CollectionThis year, however, I am trying a collection of named varieties from Kings Seeds - Kings Chelsea Scented CollectionThis includes 20 seeds of each of the following varieties:

Air Warden - red, Beaujolais - burgundy, Blue Velvet - blue, Gwendoline - pink and white, Karen Louise - lavender, Kippen Cream - cream, Leamington deep lavender, Mrs. Bernard Jones - pink and white, White frills - white.



This way I'll find out whether the named varieties really are superior to the mixtures. Either way I hope this selection provides me with some good cutting material.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

27 comments:

  1. What a coincidence that you should post this today. I have just come in from sowing some Sweet Peas in little pots. The variety I bought is "Spencer Mixed" which is alleged to be "wonderfully scented". The packet recommends indoor sowing from Jan - Mar and outdoor sowing from April - May.

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    1. We're just contrary, Mark and tend to ignore what it says on packets! It's a bit like us ignoring the SATNAV woman when she tells us to go the way we don't want to. I think it's always best to do what works for you. This can be very different for different people. It's strange how two people can do exactly the same thing and get very differing results! We've had Spencer Mixed and liked them. Good perfume and long stems.

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  2. I like your style Sue. I've never grown sweet peas because it seemed a lot of faffing about, so it's good to know that we can get away with less effort. I might have a go this year!

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    1. Definitely no faffing, Jessica. You need to grow them up netting or twigs rather than canes though as they need something to cling on to by their tendrils, If you use canes you have to them in

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  3. What a super set up you have there Sue, they look so pretty using the branches as a trellis. Sweet pea growing is taken very seriously on our site with fellow plot holders Bob and Janice both growing for competition, I fear I don't have the patience for that but it's always on of the loveliest things to see their huge displays of blooms through the summer months.

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    1. Thanks, Victoria. We used to have a show sweet pea grower on our site years ago. He used to spend hours training the sweet peas around canes and removing tendrils etc. He didn't have much time for anything else. Sweet peas do look lovely on a show bench but it's not a hobby that appeals to me personally.

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  4. Old canes seem to have more grip than new ones and I just about have enough supports if I mix them with branches cut from the ash saplings on the site.
    I might try sowing some sweet peas with the runner beans and peas this year to add a bit of summer colour.Trombone courgettes seem to do well with the peas and beans ,they like climbing up the supports which keeps the fruits clear of the soil.

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    1. So do you tie your sweet peas to the canes, David or do they climb up the beans. I don't think I've seen trombone courgettes will look for them?

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  5. Beautiful photos, I especially like the ones of the sweet peas and the squash growing together - so wonderfully summery. I'm waiting for my seed order at the moment, and I'm sure I've ordered a sweet pea mixture, although I can't quite remember what.

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    1. We are waiting for our seed order too CJ. We get most from Kings as a group of is on our site are members of the NSALG so we get seeds from them at discounted prices.

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  6. I have never planted colorful sweet peas. Look so beautiful. I think they are so wonderful as cut flowers. Thank for sharing

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    1. They do make lovely cut flowers, Endah even though they are not long lasting.

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  7. Lovely garden! :-) you are a very busy person to take care of such a large garden!

    visit my site sometime!
    Michael

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    1. This is our allotment plot Michael.

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  8. I've always been put off growing sweet peas but you've made it sound far easier than I've read previously. I might not venture in to the seeds but certainly with your close up pictures of the frames, I'm sure I could easily construct similar and buy some plugs.

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    1. Seeds aren't difficult, Angie - we used to think you had to chit them but now we just pop them in as they are. Nothing to lose by trying a packet of seeds.

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  9. What a pleasure to see the sweet peas mingling with the squash. The vibrant colours brought a little sunshine....I swear I could smell them.xxx

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    1. You have a keen nose, Snowbird :)

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  10. Could there ever be a summer without Sweetpea! I love them too!
    I do the same as yourself, literally sow them in April in root trainers, plant them out and let them do their thang. I once decided I was going to do all kinds of snipping and cutting to make those straight stemmed beauties you see on the show bench but got fed up with it and decided I'd rather have a vase full of weird shaped stems than a vase of a dozen perfectly formed ones.
    I also grow them in the polytunnel and get flowers to pick from as early as May right through to November :)

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    1. We seem to manage nice straight stems without doing anything Linda. Not show quality no doubt but fairly long and straight until they are towards the end of flowering. Maybe we have been lucky with the varieties we have grown.

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  11. This is a very timely post, Sue, as I expect lots of people are planning their seed lists and planting plans at the moment! I do like the way that you've grown your sweet peas with the squashes in front to shade the roots - do sweet peas like to have their roots kept cool? I hope you're new seed choices don't disappoint and look forward to reading about how you get on with them!

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    1. I shall be really disappointed if they don't do well, Caro after all the hype that named varieties are better! Growing the squash at a distance meant the sweet peas got growing before the squash joined them.

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  12. We can't plant sweet peas here! The blooms are so pretty! Very good seed planting plan! Happy New Year to you!

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    1. Thank you and to you too Malar

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  13. I love the hazel. I'm trying to have a similar effect with some wicker I found the other day. I think hazel looks much nicer than bamboo as a sweet pea support

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    1. Welcome, Rose I'll be back to look over your blog when I get chance. The hazel twigs were really successful.Previously we used pea netting fastened to canes and it was also a pain when we needed to clear them, The netting ended up tangled with bits of plant refusing to let go!

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    2. Oh yes, I know the feeling! I tried making a small support last year for my peas, nothing too big because it was late in the season. It was still a real pain to put up and take down despite it being so small

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