It is amazing how one’s mind wanders when gardening…
During tonights watering ritual I was pondering, if I could only take one Sweet Pea to Kirsty Young’s Desert Island, which one would I choose? After all there one of two choose from.
Whilst working at RHS Garden Wisley the other day, the scent of one particular Sweet Pea came wafting over me long before I spotted it.
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’ is not only rather beautiful, it is also rated as the best of all Sweet Peas for scent, with flowers best described as violet to a deep plum juice.
Sweet Peas also fascinate me with their ever searching tendrils, which always seem to be becoming me, over here, here, just a bit further!
The great thing about Sweet Peas is that if you obey just six rules, then you are more or less guaranteed success…
- Prepare the soil well, dig in copious amounts of well rotted organic matter, which will break down to provide nutrients, absorb water and create a well structured soil which the roots will be able to forage and grow through with ease
- Create a strong, very strong support for the Sweet Peas, when in full leaf they are like a ship in full sail, and so flimsy structures can collapse easily.
- Current thinking is to water the Sweet Peas liberally with a very weak liquid tomato feed at every watering, The idea is to use the same amount of feed in total, but to give a little with every watering rather than the strange starvation and feast approach most gardening books of old recommended.
- Spend as much time deadheading as you possibly can. This will prevent seed pods forming which will reduce flowering as the plant is assured of a new generation, but will also reduce flowering as energy is diverted to seed production
- Observe the plants closely in dry weather they can succumb to mildews, which are so much easier to control when caught early, as are aphids and other pests.
- Give them a good start in life, and to me this involves a split cane in the pot when young to get them clinging, when I plant them out the can gets tied at the top to the canes or poles, so gently suggesting the best way to grow.
They are easy to grow from seeds, and spring plantings (not too early when it is still cold) work well.
However the final piece of advice comes from ancient Irish folklore, – if you plant a sweet pea before sunrise between March 1 and March 20, and especially on St. Patrick’s Day, your sweet pea will grow to be larger and more fragrant, but then they would say that!
At Enthusiast towers we believe the real secrets to great Sweet Peas are the right cultivar, feeding, watering and dead heading.
Good luck, and Happy Gardening.