Thursday, 8 January 2015

Sowing the sweet peas

I sowed all the sweet pea seeds today. I only ordered ten seeds for each of the varieties but I still potentially have one hundred and fifty plants.   Some inevitably die and some of the packets had an extra one or two seeds.  I usually sow in October but this year I sent in the seed order a little late and I was very busy during October so I didn't get round to it.  I have sown in November but the light is so bad that when the seeds germinate the seedlings do not thrive.  The light is a little better in January so I am hoping that the seed will produce some good plants.

I have chosen these varieties because they are strong growers that produce long stemmed large flowers.  There are many more exhibition varieties but these are the ones I have this year.  The large flowers are produced because only one stem is allowed to grow up the canes per plant.  All tendrils and side shoots are removed.
The varieties are:
White Frills (white)

Doreen (cream)
Gwendoline (pink on white)
Gwendoline sweet pea

Yvette Ann (pink on white)
Daily Mail (pink)
Mark Harrod (scarlet)
Windsor (maroon)

Joyce Stanton (dark blue)
Just Julia (mid blue)
Andrew Cavendish (lavender)
Ethyl Grace (lavender)
Jacqueline Ann (lavender on white)
Bristol (light blue)
Bristol sweet pea

Charlie's Angels (ice blue)
Oban Bay. (ice blue)

I've got quite a few blues and lavenders in these varieties so that I can compare the shades and work out which I like the best. I think that Charlie's Angel and Oban Bay are better shades than Bristol but many people have commented on how they like Bristol.

Now, I  have seen in  two books;  "Plant Propagation  for the Amateur Gardener" by John Wright and "Science and the Garden" edited by David  Ingram, that sweet pea seeds should either be chipped with a knife or sanded to make a hole in the testa for water to enter the seed.  This they say will help to overcome seed dormancy.

Well  if you think that I am going to chip over 150 seeds then you are sadly mistaken.   I have been growing sweet peas since I was 16 and I have never chipped or sanded sweet pea seeds.  They are tiny little beggars in any case and I think that I would be chipping and sanding the ends of my fingers rather than the seeds.

Although I cannot remember every years germination rate, in most recent years I have had more or less 100% germination without chipping.

Last year the sweet peas did not last as long as I would have liked because of the dreaded virus disease that turns the plants yellow from the bottom up.

The only way that they could have been infected was through the canes.  I am going to give all the canes a very good washing this year before I make the supports.   Putting up 150 canes is going to be a time consuming task.

I have sown the sweet pea seeds into ordinary multipurpose compost in three inch pots.  Last year I sowed into root trainers but they seem to be very fiddly, take up more space in the greenhouse and don't produce any better plants than the three inch pots.  They will be left to grow on in the greenhouse and when they have made two sets of leaves, I will pinch out the growing tip to encourage the side shoots.  The best side shoot will be grown on to make the plant.

1 comment:

  1. please provide me your e-mail address, I have questions. Thanks!