It was time to pot-on the sweet peas this week to give them 6 weeks to establish a good root system before planting out at the end of March. Some people are surprised by me doing this. Most people grow them in a pot and then just plant that out, even though the roots have probably been going round the pot for many weeks trying to find water and nourishment. I think this additional stage is worthwhile to get stronger stocky plants which are well fed and better prepared for life outside when they are hardened off in mid-March. It only took a few days after pinching the tops out for them to start producing side shoots which will result in nice bushy plants with more flowering stems and therefore more flowers.
I sow two seeds into each cell of root trainers and, most of the time, both seeds grow. I don’t soak them or chit them as some recommend, I have never found this necessary if you plant fresh seed in October/November. As soon as they have grown two pairs of leaves I pinch out the top and let them start to produce side shoots. I start pinching out in mid January and by now they have all been pinched out and ready for potting-on.
The root trainers produce really good root systems and I think it is essential to give them plenty of room at this stage. I have tried cardboard toilet roll tubes but they just turn to mush and can only accommodate one seed. You also can’t pot them on unless you put the whole thing into a pot which seems to defeat the object of sowing them in the toilet roll tube in the first place! Root trainers are definitely the best.
The two little plants separate easily without any damage to the roots and are potted up individually in 9cm pots or, my preference which is Sweet Pea bags. Hard to come by these days, I think I bought mine from Roger Parsons many years ago. Like pots, they last for ever. However, I have given so many away over the years to intrigued friends that I now only have 30 left, so I use 9cm pots as well.
They both fit nicely in a mushroom tray for moving them about and watering and provide the same amount of compost and growing room. I don’t add any feed in the compost at this stage, other than what is already provided by the supplier in the bag. I don’t want to encourage too much soft growth before they are ready to go outside.
So there we are, Six on Saturday all about Sweet Peas! Sorry, but there’s not much else going on this week. Lots more next week though, February is weed, feed and mulch time and I have 1000 litres of blended soil conditioner arriving in a dumpy bag on Monday! Valentines Day present for the wife. So romantic!
Have a great weekend
Excellent master class on sweet peas! And I hope the soil conditioner is appreciated next week….
She doesn’t know about it yet, it will be such a surprise!😂
Lots of great advice, I grew mine in toilet rolls last year and as you say they were a soggy mess.
I think you masterclass is equally transferable to much other seed sowing. The roots are the key. Many thanks for adding this great SOS and very timely too.
How many sweet pea plants to you grow for your own garden (as opposed to growing for friends and family)? Do you grow them for cut flowers or to enjoy as part of a garden border? Sorry I’m being so nosy!
Good question! And not nosey at all! I sowed 60 seeds this year and got 56 plants which are too many for me but my son-in-law will take 12 and I will offer 24 to my gardening friends which leaves me with 20 for two wigwams of 10. I grow them for cut flowers for the house and for my neighbours who are both widows. I grow some every year, some years more than others. I used to exhibit them at shows but it is too much trouble!
That sounds lovely. Thanks for the reply.