Sow Sweet Peas in autumn.
Sow Sweet Peas in autumn.
If you sow sweet peas in autumn you’ll get the very best sweet peas …but by a whisker those sown in late winter or very early spring are only a smidge behind!
Surely there is no better cut flower that you can grow from seed is there?
Get them in early and they grow strongly, have scent that only a rose gets near and just go on producing bunches for months!
What to sow them in.
Sweet peas have deep roots and deep roots need deep pots when you sow them. Yes, you can use rolled up newspaper tubes or loo roll centres filled with seed compost. You then can plant the whole thing into the garden so that the ‘container’ bio degrades.
But you could also buy those rigid bottomless tubes. I think you know the kind. They are made out the same material “Whale-hide” pots used for ring culture tomato growing. Incidentally, no whales were hurt during their production.
But for me the very best pot – and without the fiddle of making your own – is the reusable Ronash Rootrainers!
Rootrainers were originally developed for growing millions of forest tree seedlings. The design is quite sophisticated. To prevent roots going round inside the pot [and continuing to do so when planted out], the sides have ridges. This directs the roots to the bottom. When they get to the bottom they find themselves growing out into a void of dry air. This causes the root tips to die and as a result the plant produces lovely little fibrous roots back inside the pot. It creates a far superior root system that hits the ground running when planted out!
You can reuse Rootrainers many times. Even several times in the same year. I use mine for sweet peas, peas, beans, sweet corn and I have even used them for parsnips too!
Sweet pea seeds have a very hard seed coat. This sometimes prevents water penetrating through the hard shell. Some gardeners always chip the seed coat with the point of a knife before sowing. I soak mine overnight before breaking the seed coat of those that haven’t taken in water. I then sow two seeds in each container.
Growing them on
A little heat to get them going can be added but sweet peas are remarkably tough once germinated. A bright windowsill is perfectly adequate to get them started. Transfer to a sunny sheltered spot on the patio in March.
They won’t be there long because you will need to get them planted out from mid March onwards. Wherever you put them, don’t forget that snails and slugs like them just as much as we do but for totally different reasons!
Choosing varieties has now become a challenge! There are so many good varieties!
For me, they have to have long stems and strong scent.
There are those that grow shorter and varieties that can even fill hanging baskets and containers.
I have found that Kings Seeds have a great range and, unlike most seed companies, actually grow the seed themselves in Suffolk.
Which ones do you grow and why do you find them the best?
Now I’m hoping that you too will sow sweet peas in autumn in future.
Incidentally, I’ve some tips on sowing other seeds here.