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Sweet Peas - Part 1

It’s the weekend; you cosy down on the sofa with your favourite gardening magazine, a fresh cuppa sits on the coffee table next to you. Your gaze travels from the central heating thermostat, which reads 21°C, straight out of the window as you admire the frost-covered roof tops twinkling and sparkling in the sunlight. You find your mind wandering, wishing away the winter, excitedly thinking of all those seeds you can’t wait to get sowing in the spring.

But why wait until the spring to start sowing seeds? January is the perfect time to sow lots of different seed varieties and on todays blog we will be looking at my favourite cut flower; sweet peas. If sown early enough you can enjoy your first bunch of flowers as early as May.

We grow sweet peas on our plot without fail every single year. With so many different varieties to choose from, this beautifully fragrant climbing flower is a popular choice amongst allotment gardeners across the nation.

I thought it would be nice if I covered growing sweet peas over a few blogs this year; from sowing to planting out and how best to enjoy and prolong your gorgeous crop for as long as possible.

If you have an unheated greenhouse or cold frame, sweet peas can be sown as early as November and will over winter nicely in the cooler conditions, maturing slowly. However, if you didn’t get a chance to sow yours before Christmas, January is a great time too. But don’t panic if you’re not quite ready still, you have until April to sow them, just keep in mind that the later you sow your seeds, the longer you’ll have to wait to enjoy the gorgeous flowers.

Sweet peas will produce a large root system so when choosing your pot or container, be sure to keep this in mind and use something which is quite deep such a root trainer, cardboard toilet roll tubes or we use plastic pint glasses which work perfectly.

Ensure your chosen container has sufficient drainage holes and fill with compost leaving a few centimetres at the top. The amount of seeds you sow will depend on the size of the container you’re using, but remember when sowing less is more so two seeds will normally suffice.

Using the end of pencil make a hole in the compost of around 1cm, sow your seed (one per hole) and then cover with compost firmly slightly to ensure there are no pockets of air and there is contact between your seed and the compost. Water your freshly sown seeds and leave in a cool, well-lit frost free spot.

Keep the soil moist being sure not to over-water as this will encourage your seeds to rot. You should see signs of life in around two weeks.

That’s all you need to do. Simple right?

When your seedlings reach around 10cm tall, they will need to be ‘pinched out’, but don’t worry it’s really simple and we’ll be covering that in our next sweet pea blog together.

That’s all you need to do for now, so you can get back to that cuppa and gardening magazine on the sofa.

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