Monday, 20 May 2013

Planting Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)

What could be nicer than the colour and scent of Sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus). 


If ever there was a plant that could summarise Summer, this plant can do it.

As an annual, sow seeds in the Autumn or Spring. I just pop mine straight into pots and tend not to worry about soaking or chitting them. They germinate and grow over Winter, and in the early Spring, I pinch the growing tips, encouraging them to grow bushier.

So for this time of year, it's all about planting and getting them growing. This is a task my plants have been sitting patiently waiting for me to do.


Although Sweet pea plants have the ability to 'fix' their own nitrogen, i.e. they can make their own food for growing, they do require a nice rich growing medium to really get the best out of them.


So here is how I plant them:


Step 1: Water the plants well before planting.








Step 2: Dig a trench in your soil. Mine is 6-8 inches deep by a spade width (about 9 inches).











Step 3: Fill the trench with compost. Here I've used a general multipurpose. If I had access to homemade compost I would have used that. My manure is still too raw for these little guys.










Step 4: Mix in some slow release fertilizer. in this case I added dried fish, blood and bone meal - perfect for the job.











Step 6: Plant the plants. Water them in well.





Step 7: Provide growing structure and tie them in.


Easy.



In this case I put up a structure using 4ft canes. The plants will grow larger than this, up to 6ft (or almost two metres for the metric minded), so I will add height to this later in the season.




Of course, like planting any bedding at this time if year, do be aware that the foliage smells lovely, soft and tasty for our mollusc friends; take the necessary action. In my case, I have my beer traps down, organic pellets in place and regular late evening patrols will ensue.

Soon I will be rewarded with those lovely white flowers I'm constantly talking about, heralding the arrival of Summer!

Happy gardening.