The wonderful world of Sweet Peas

If I was to get a report on my first year growing sweet peas then it would be – must do better!

At the start of this year everything was going so well – they germinated, grew and looked strong.  However, then I made a rooky mistake. I didn’t provide enough time to gradually expose them to the elements, plunging them from the warmth of my utility room window to the elements on my veranda too quickly. So, this time I’m going to try something a little different.

Timing of sowing

To start with, I’m going to grow from seed and sow now instead of early next year. You can do it anytime from October through to March but I’ve read that sowing before Christmas helps produce stronger flowers and ones that have a better resistance to disease. 

The how-to

  • Like last year I’m using a combination of root trainer pots and loo rolls. When a sweet pea germinates it grows two shoots, one that goes up and the other that goes down. The one that goes up will continue to grow and will eventually produce the gorgeous blooms we all love but the one that grows down will continue to grow until it reaches the bottom of the pot. Once it reaches the bottom it branches out all the way up the pot. Therefore, sowing the seeds in a loo roll or long pot will give you a longer, stronger root.
  • Next step is to pop about an inch of compost in each pot and then gently push in two seeds. Each container then needs to be topped up with compost and then dampened with water. 
Millie helping out with the sweetpea preparation
  • I’m going to put mine in my shed and will check in on them weekly. Once they have started to germinate and have grown two to three inches tall, I’ll pinch out the tips. This will help produce a bushier plant. Also make sure you keep an eye on the roots to, when they start coming out of the bottom, transfer to a bigger container.
  • Before planting out then time should be spent gently acclimatising them from one environment to another. They should then be ready to plant out in the garden in mid-March – don’t worry, I’ll remind you.
  • And finally,  mice love sweet peas so be sure to protect them or they’ll be eaten in a midnight feast!

Other jobs to be getting on with this month

  • Don’t forget to plant your daffodil bulbs and crocuses.
  • Lift and dry your tubers and store in cool dark conditions until spring
  • Plant evergreen shrubs and conifer hedges while the soil is still warm
  • Remove any pot saucers and raise pots up onto feet to prevent waterlogging over winter

Previous blogs to help you with the how to

Digging up Dahlias and planting peonies

Top 5 Autumn questions answered

And finally don’t forget about your pumpkins

If you can, do use your pumpkins to avoid them going into landfill sites. There are so many eco friendly ideas for reusing and recycling your pumpkins post Halloween. Here are some ideas.

  1. You Can Eat Most Pumpkins -Toasted pumpkin seeds make a healthy snack, plus you can use to make fresh pumpkin puree
  2. Donate – See if you can donate leftover pumpkins to zoos or farms to see if they can use them. Do, however always speak to them first prior to donating to see if they would like them.
  3. Feed the Birds – Attract birds to your garden by turning your pumpkin into a bird feeder. Just cut in half horizontally, empty the cavity, and fill it with birdseed. Either leave it out or hang it from a tree.You can add the pumpkin’s seeds to your regular birdseed, too! Rinse and dry the seeds before mixing them in.
  4. Create Compost – Pumpkins make a great addition to you compost pile! Because they’re mostly water, they decompose quickly, but it’ll go even faster if you break them apart first. Just remember to remove the seeds first so they don’t root.

With love and stay safe, Flowers and Lifestyle by Margot –

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