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Sweet pea sowing14 October 2011
Sweet peas add charm and a glorious smell in our gardens, now is the time to sow explains Michelle and Kris, from Amateur Gardening
Sweet peas, (Lathyrus odoratus) are a sure fire winner in our gardens. They give scent, colour and the tall climbing varieties, structure. Sweet peas can be planted during October and November and again in February March and April, depending where you live. Sowing now gives the plants a healthy growing start and they will probably flower earlier. Seeds are best bought pre-chitted and most of them are, you can tell by looking closely and seeing a slight mark of yellow, or pale white against the dark outer casing of the seed. Some people do soak them but this increases the chance that may rot. Most varieties do not need to be soaked.
There are so many to choose from and it will depend on the colour you want and the space you have. There are now varieties on the market that do well in pots and hanging baskets they bush out more and do not get so high, perfect for the patio or smaller garden.
Pinch out the tops of seedlings when about 8in(20cm) tall for bushier plants.
STEP BY STEP
Succesful sweet pea sowing
1) Fill root trainer trays with good quality seed compost, water and using a dibber make small holes I each section. Normal modular trays can be used, but sweet pea roots are long and will be better condition in root trainers.
2) Place one seed in each hole at a depth of 0.5in(1cm). If sowing in pots place five seeds in each pot and cover to the same depth. Water and cover with polythene case or bag if in pots.
3) If sowing this autumn keep the seeds at about 59?F (15?c) until germination then transfer the seedlings to a cold frame. Protect if the weather conditions are bad over winter, they are usually very hardy but a long severe frost may damage them. Plant out in spring.