It’s been awhile since I shared a post and I cannot believe how quickly the summer is passing by. Every spare moment is spent in the garden, whether it is cutting flowers for the house or gathering produce for the kitchen.
The sweet peas have been incredible with beautiful long stems and an almost overwhelming scent that fills the air each time we step inside the walled garden.
I cannot take the credit for these as I have realised it is all down to the quality of the seed as well as regular picking and of course the plants are very thirsty, so the rain has played a great part.
Next year, I am going to invest in longer and more robust sticks for the plants to climb. The plants have grown so vigorously and the weight of them has forced the wigwams to lean and become lopsided. The old ‘mounting block’ that I used to have for my horses, has once more been put to good use. It enables us to climb beside the plants and cut the very top stems, some of which must be nearly ten foot from the ground.
We are making the most of the warm days and enjoying arm fulls of brightly coloured blooms but cannot help pondering which the varieties we are going to select to fill our vases next summer.
Everyone who visits the farmhouse, seem to love the jugs of sweet peas on the breakfast table as well as the little posies that we leave in their bedrooms. We are always being asked for our secret to growing them. I always say that the key is simply to give the plants lots of care and attention! But hopefully these tips may help:
- Before sowing, we tend to soak the seeds in a little water for 24 hours to soften their hard shells. We don’t leave them in the water any longer than this as they tend to sprout and it is easy to break the delicate shoot whilst planting.
- We make a first sowing in the greenhouse during the autumn, ideally the first week of November but have sown the seeds as late as December.
- When the seedlings are established we pinch out the two top leaves to encourage the plant to make side shoots.
- We ‘harden off’ the plants for at least five days and return to the greenhouse before planting out in late March.
- The flower bed is prepared well ahead of planting time. We cover the soil with a deep layer of our own compost and put the sticks in place before transplanting the established plants.
- When the first sowing of sweet peas are in the ground, we repeat the process so that we have more plants to follow on. This enables us to have sweet peas for the house all through the summer.
- When the flowers begin to appear we pick everything that is in flower and then leave the whole ‘wigwam’ for several days before cutting again. Pinch out any seed pods as soon as you spot them.