Late Winter sowing of sweet pea seeds.
(Before you think I’m a time traveller….this post was written last February and not, as you may have believed, in three weeks time.)
Just a quickie. I’m starting the spring late winter season by sowing up a dozen or so pots of sweet peas. I already have a similar amount of autumn-sown seedlings.
I was reading the lovely Alys Fowler in the paper ‘tother day….turns out that she too likes a winter sowing of sweet peas:
“The lore is that the best sweet peas are sown in December to give them time to get their roots down while the cold air of winter keeps the top growth sturdy. However, I’ve found sowing in January and early February gives as good results. Sweet peas sown now will need protection, be that a cold greenhouse, the plastic patio sort, a cold frame, a cold front porch or a sheltered balcony. You need good light and must keep the very worst frost off (the plants can’t go below 5C). But once the seedlings are up, they should be kept cold: this causes the plant to sideshoot, which means bushier growth and more flowers.” Guardian January 2021.
I sow my sweet pea seeds 2cm deep…I poke a hole up to the first knuckle of my forefinger.
IMPORTANT: Other than sweet peas and Cobaea scandens I rarely sow anything else until late March, and most of my sowing of annuals happens around mid to late April when light levels are high and the soil is getting warm…it is vastly easier to have success with seed sowing if you start later in the season…and later sown flowers usually catch up. If you want your flowers earlier in the season then sow them in early autumn…NOT late winter…ie February…..you have been warned! ;)
I have sown three seedlings in each 1 litre pot and given the pot a good watering. I don’t presoak my seeds and I almost always get an over 85% germination rate. If the compost of moist then the seeds will soften up quite happily.
Sweet peas like a little warmth to get them wriggling into life. I put my pots in this 64 Litre storage box from The Really Useful Box Company (Other box companies are available.) The box is then left inside the warmth of my boat until most of the seedlings are showing themselves. After this, the box (closed) will go outside on the roof of the boat until I am ready to plant the little beasties in the ground or in a container. Leaving them in the warm at this stage would make them leggy and they won’t be keen on becoming nice and bushy.
I don’t drill drainage or air holes in the boxes…I used to…but it makes no difference….just don’t water too heavily. I only open the box and leave it ajar in hot weather, which there won’t be much of before I plant the seedlings outside from late March to May.
I will keep you updated and write another post when I plant them out. :)
You can see our sweet pea portfolio of seeds in the Higgledy Garden Shop.
We also have discounted bundle which will leave you enough seeds for a later sowing and even an autumn sowing.
Thank you for reading.
Ben and Flash.