Monday, 25 April 2011

Exhibition sweet peas - the next stage.

After starting the sweet peas off in the greenhouse:

they are planted next to the canes and then left to grow on for a while.  

Now the sweet peas need to be tied in and a main stem selected.  The other stems need to be cut off.  Only in this way will I get really big flowers. Remember that you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Only one shoot is needed on the Restormel sweet peas
Valerie Harrod Sweet peas with one main stem tied in to canes

Those on the left are not done those on the right are done.

The sweet peas are then tied to the canes because they will have no means of climbing otherwise.  As I have disturbed the plants, I gave them a good watering with comfrey liquid.  This seemed to have cheered them up quite a bit.


There are two tubs in the photograph.  One is for the sweet pea side shoots and the other has all the wire ties.  Whatever I do, I cannot put the cut side shoots into the correct tub and have to go fishing to get them out of the wire ties tub.  Sort it out for goodness sake Tone.

I will be busy from now on removing side shoots and tying in the main stem that has been chosen.  The tendrils as well as the side shoots will be removed and tying in will be essential because the plants have lost their natural means of support.  If the plants are not tied in they flop about and grow in a contorted way leading to flowers that do not have straight stems.

I will continue to water the sweet peas with comfrey.  If you give them a fertiliser too high in nitrogen at this time of year it might lead to bud drop.

You can see that I have begun to put netting around the runner bean canes.   The runner beans are nearly big enough to go out now but there is still a great risk of frost.  The netting may help to prevent them from being too badly damaged by any frost we have.  The three White Apollo are tucked down this end of the row.  I have not protected the Blue Lake climbing French beans like this but I can easily replace them with the Cobra climbing French beans if they get caught by a frost.

The ground looks very dry here although there is some dampness a couple of centimetres down.  I am watering though.  The ground has not been prepared in any special way for the sweet peas.  They will grow well in any relatively fertile soil.

Last year I double dug this area because I was burying logs from the 6 silver birch we had taken down in the garden.  I dug the whole area so there were no dedicated trenches for the sweet peas.  I don't think that the logs and brushwood have rotted down yet but it did not seem to bother the onions last year and now the sweet peas.  I also used leylandii shreddings much to the consternation of other allotment holders.  They were suggesting that I would "poison my ground" if I used them.  While I would not used them to dig into the top soil,  I see no reason why they should not be used to increase the carbon content of the subsoil.  They are a bit acid and they will reduce the nitrogen content of the subsoil around them but I don't really mind.  Vegetable roots will not usually get that far down and if they do then it might be a reservoir of water retaining vegetation for them.  The top soil got a lot of tree leaves dug in but that was all.

I dug down 2 spits and then broke up the subsoil with a fork
I ran out of birch so I used leylandii shreddings

Double digging the sweet pea area February last year
The top soil had a lot of inoculated charcoal added when the onions were planted.  This is now mixed in well with the rest of the top soil.

The point is that I have not done anything special for the sweet peas this year.  I am just relying on the general fertility of the soil.  In fact I am relying on the sweet peas to increase the fertility of the soil by adding nitrogen when they are dug in at the end of the year.  Nothing should be wasted in a good garden.

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