Blackwood's

GROWING SWEET PEAS

One of the real joys of spring is being able to pick huge bunches of gloriously scented, home-grown sweet peas. The best thing about sweet peas is that the more flowers you pick, the more they produce.  Sweet peas have numerous colours including red, blue, lavender, pink and white and can also be streaked or bicoloured.

Just be sure to get them into the ground by the end of April and prepare your soil well. Dig a trench to a depth of at least 50cm. Add some superphosphate then mix the soil which you’ve dug out with lots of good well-rotted compost, a general fertiliser like 2:3:2 and a bit of lime if your soil is acid.

There are two main types of sweet pea; the taller varieties which can grow to about two metres in height and then the bedding varieties which grow to about knee height. The taller varieties need a trellis or some support,as they cannot support their own weight without help. The bedding variety is a smaller bushy plant which is able to support its own weight .

To provide support for climbing sweet peas, a fairly fine netting fixed between a row of posts works well. The tendrils of the sweet peas cling to the netting and you don’t have to spend as much time tying the stems onto the support.  An alternative is to use 4 dowell rods or long sticks put together in a wigwam shape, tied at the top.

When your sweet pea plants are about 15cm high, pinch off the growing tips to encourage the seedlings to produce more shoots. Sweet peas are greedy feeders so foliar feed them every two weeks and keep the soil well mulched with compost, keeping it away from the stems.