Planting sweet peas. Part 1.

Today was the first I’ve had in ages when I could hit the allotment with more than a glancing blow.

We’ve had a run of beautiful sunny and warm days here. It’s put a spring in everyone’s step and I feel like we’re closer than a gnat’s whisker to getting loads of stuff in the ground.

I’ve made an allotment plan, but there are still some details to iron out – like where to put the sweetpeas.

Sweet Peas are lovely to grow; pretty, prolific, great for cut flowers. I had thought about mixing them in with my climbing French beans, but then I noticed some convenient gaps in my little cut flower patch.

Welcoming spaces in the flower patch

Welcoming spaces in the flower patch

The flower patch currently contains sweet williams and achillea cassis, shortly to be joined by a sowing of nigella. It used to have echinacea too, but these seem to be irresistable to critters and were quickly munched. The echinacea-sized gaps looked just right for sweet pea wigwams.

Sweet peas are pretty greedy for goodness and water, and our soil is very free-draining so here’s what I did:

Step 1: dig a hole, about 2 feet across

Step 1: dig a hole, about 2 feet across

Step 2: find a load of couch grass roots, swear profusely and spend 10 minutes teasing them out of the soil (This step is optional)

Step 2: find a load of couch grass roots, swear profusely and spend 10 minutes teasing them out of the soil (This step is optional)

Step 3: chuck in a bucket load of manure

Step 3: chuck in a bucket load of manure

Step 4: backfill with soil, tamp down, rake smooth

Step 4: backfill with soil, tamp down, rake smooth

Step 5: sink 5 canes in a circle and tie them securely at the top to form a wigwam

Step 5: sink 5 canes in a circle and tie them securely at the top to form a wigwam

I put up a second wigwam too, completing all the steps the same, except finding bindweed roots instead. Gah!

Two wigwams awaiting their climbers

Two wigwams awaiting their climbers

The RHS recommend adding manure at least 4 weeks before planting. I’m not sure I’ll wait quite that long, it depends how the seedlings get on and what the weather’s like. The first sowing – with the exception of no-shows from the Solway Blue Vein – is looking good. I’ve pinched out the tips to make them branch out, and they look strong and healthy. And the second sowing are all up.

First sweet pea sowing looking good.

First sweet pea sowing looking good.

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