Newest Review: ... them off in September / October the year before for a head start. When sown either in late winter or early autumn, sweet peas will ne... more
SWEET MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD
Member Name: Ann J Sec
Date: 19/02/01, updated on 19/02/01 (229 review reads)
Advantages: Delicate flowers, highly perfumed,easy to grow
Disadvantages: Can be prone to caterpillars, mice and viruses
My early childhood was spent in my grandparents' small semi at the back of which was a tiny back garden with a concrete path running straight through the middle. On one side of the garden was a high fence and every summer without fail my grandfather would lovingly plant his sweet peas. Oh the delight of being able to pick them to my hearts delight without being scolded for doing so and I can clearly remember burying my head in huge bunches of pale pink, lilac and white flowers wishing I could breathe that perfume in forever. His sweet peas grew in profusion, growing to an enormous height and hiding the fence completely.It always seemed miraculous to me that no matter how many I picked, more would take their place the next day.
When I had my own child I wanted him too to experience the pleasure of gardening. Sweet peas, or Lathyrus as they are otherwise known, therefore seemed to be the ideal choice as they are relatively easy to grow, although they do require some nurturing. The seed soon sprouts up looking something like a beanstalk which is a novelty for kiddies and come spring or early summer there they are in the garden, masses and masses of delicately coloured sweet smelling flowers to be picked and enjoyed in much the same way I did so many years ago.
Well that sounds easy doesn't it? Unfortunately there can be problems with this flower. It can be prone to viruses or caterpillars and it is important to soak the seeds for at least 24 hours before planting so that they split beforehand. Some newer brands unfortunately no longer have a perfume so it is important to check first that you have purchased one of the old fashioned types such as Spencers to ensure quality blooms and fragrance.
Sweet peas can be planted directly into the ground in March/April to flower in summer, although personally I have never had much success planting in this way as the seeds are tempting to mice and birds. I have had far greater success sowin
g indoors on a sunny windowsill, using John Innes No. 1 compost (Nos 2 and 3 are too strong). The tips require nipping out as the plant is growing to ensure a healthy plant and when they have reached a strong healthy size they can be planted outdoors about 2/3" deep in a sunny position sheltered from the wind. It is important not to overwater seedlings,although once planted outdoors they will require watering every day. Add some peat and feed regularly and you will be well rewarded later in the year.
If this all sounds too difficult, sweet peas can be purchased as seedlings from garden centres. For as little as 75p you will get a pot of about 20 small plants. It is however,rather difficult to separate them and personally I don't think there is the same satisfaction as growing them from a seed.
Well my seeds are already soaking and will be sown tomorrow. Already I'm looking forward to picking the flowers in summer and filling my home with the fragrance that so reminds me of my childhood. With a bit of luck and plenty of sunshine I will have flowers by the hundred in a few months time.