Planting out Sweet Pea plants and Growing on to Flowering
Depending on weather conditions the plants should be planted out in the garden before the end of February in Jersey. Obviously timing will vary according to location, soil type and weather but remember that once the plants are out of the frame and in the ground there is not much you can do to protect them if the weather turns bad. Before planting incorporate slow release fertilizer such as blood, fish and bonemeal as well as sulphate of potash at recommended dosages.
Put all the canes in position (about 8 inches apart) before planting so that there is no root damage. Secure the canes by tying to a wire stretched between two solid posts. This must be strong enough to prevent the crop being blown over by gales which can occur at any time of the year. Insert the plants with the strongest side shoot close to the supporting cane.
By the end of March the plants will need to have their first tie. Leave this as long as possible to ensure that you select the best shoot to grow on. The original shoot will now have been overtaken in vigour by the side shoots and will eventually fade away. Do not at any stage nip out the growing pint of either the main shoot or any of the side shoots. Make sure that the ties are not so tight that they damage the shoots which may look thin at this point but will grow and thicken over time.
Allow all side shoots to grow without restriction but tie up the chosen shoot at each leaf joint. By the end of April the plants will need to be tied every three or four days. By this time each plant will have a number of vigorously growing side shoots apart from the one selected to be tied up. Now is the time to stop (take out the growing point of) all but the main shoot. All the side shoots will have stimulated root growth and now that these have been stopped the extra leaf area on the plant will feed exclusively into the main shoot and the extensive root system will ensure maximum vigour. At this time the first signs of flower stems will appear.
|There will be a great deeal of tangled growth at this stage.|
|Having had their side shoots stopped the plants will now exploit all opportunities to throw out shoots from all leaf joints. All these shoots must be either removed or stopped. At lower levels it is probably best to remove any new growth completely as it will be difficult to control but where side shoots appear on the main stem it is worth allowing two pairs of leaves to develope before taking out the growing point. The extra leaf surface will increase plant vigour and feed into the production of first class blooms|
|Sweet Peas are notoriously prone to bud drop where buds do not develop correctly. They remain small, often going yellow and eventually simply drop of the flower stem. The cause of this is not clearly understood (by me at least) and is probably related to temperature (possible night temperatures) or extreme fluctuation in temperatures as in a sudden chilly spell of weather or even a spell of hot, dry weather. In any event it is not the sort of think you want to see just before the flower show but if it occurs there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.|
|Another thing to remember is to remove all tendrils as they appear. Failure to do so will allow them to reach out and snag growing flower stems thus causing them to become distorted. The flower stems must be encouraged to grow as straight as possible to give maximum impact on the show bench.|
|Some time around the middle of May the first blooms will appear. many of these are of inferior quality with three heads or less but the subsequent flower stems should start to show the optimum four heads which is the ideal for the show bench.|
|the show bench>>>>|