Regular visitors know that I am growing sweet peas ‘properly’ this year, training them up canes as single stems and not letting them ramble everywhere. This is to make sure I get long stems for cutting. It is also because, going against almost everything that is written, I am not sure that sweet peas look good clambering about over other plants or up netting. There are several reasons for this, it is not just me being awkward! Sweet peas can flower for a long time but only if you do not let them set seed pods. If you let a couple develop the plants stop flowering or at least they give up making decent stems. Also, if allowed to ramble you get short stems that are crooked and no good for cutting. And sweet peas need to be picked regularly. The buds will not open in water so you need to cut them when fully open and if you miss any the plants get lazy and stop flowering. If they get dry they get mildew too. So they really are not good enough for garden display in my opinion. I am not being hard on them – I love sweet peas but to get the best from them they need a fair bit of effort – and this year I will do just that.
So the soil has been well dug and has had a lot of manure added over the past year. A raised bed has been made and the soil was mulched with mushroom compost in autumn so I am hoping it is rich enough and has enough calcium in it to please the sweet peas. Canes were put in last month and the young plants were ready to plant out this weekend. The plants were sown last October and the tips were pinched out to encourage strong sideshoots. Each plant produced at least one strong shoot and once they were about 15cm long the plants were ready to go out, having rooted well in their individual pots.
I prepared the plot by scattering a few slug pellets on the ground a week before planting to try to reduce the slug population. The plants were watered well – it helps to get the plants out of the pots – and then carefully planted, one at the base of each cane.
They were then watered well to make sure the roots were in contact with the soil. In a week or so, when they start to grow, I will pinch off all but the one, strongest stem and tie this, with some wire rings (sweet pea rings) to the canes.