Planting out sweet peas is one of my favourite spring tasks in the garden and very easy to do. If you have sown your sweet peas from seed under cover, you can usually plant them outside from around mid-April onwards depending on the weather. Do take care this year though as spring has been very late to arrive and temperatures this month can be freezing or very warm, so err on the side of caution – they will quickly make up for lost time so wait a week or two if you’re in doubt. Sowing from seed gives you the best choice of varieties, but good garden centres will have young plants in pots or trays that you can also plant out now.
Make sure your seedlings are hardened off before you plant them out. Although sweet peas are very hardy, all young plants need to be exposed gradually to the outdoors prior to being planted so leave them outside during the day and take them indoors at night for at least a week – two weeks is even better.
As sweet peas are hungry plants, feeding the soil will ensure a good supply of nutrients and enable them to grow strongly. Farmyard manure is excellent for this and can be bought in bags from garden centres. Homemade compost is super too. Tip on to the soil generously and work in loosely with a fork. If your plants are in pots, allow one plant for every upright on your plant support, and if they are single plants in a tray, you should be able to fit two or three.
Water in well immediately after planting and tie loosely to the support. You’ll need to keep tying in as they grow for the first month or so and you’ll find that after that they can support themselves as they scramble upwards.
Make sure you offer protection from slugs for whom the tender green shoots are a sought-after delicacy – I use organic slug pellets, now widely available. When your sweet peas bloom enjoy the fabulous perfume and remember, the more you cut them, the more they grow!
Tie in sweet peas to supports to encourage them to climb upwards
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