Gardeners’ World: Monty Don on sweet peas
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Gardeners’ World fans sat down to another episode with Monty Don this evening. He started the show by planting sweet peas and told those watching at home there were three “critical” things to remember through the flowers season.
Perfect for picking, fragrant sweet peas are easy to grow and can come in a range of beautiful colours.
They can be grown in pots or the ground, training them up a frame for a showstopping display.
Gardeners can also plant sweet peas near a searing area to smell them.
They can also be picked for a vase, and a small amount can fill a room with fragrance.
So what is Monty’s advice when it comes to growing sweet peas?
Monty said: “I’m planting out some more sweet peas, I say some more because I actually started planting sweet peas about a month ago.
“One to stagger the harvest, so we get some early flowers, but also because it’s a question of finding room for them.
“And when you’re planting them in a border, I like to let the herbaceous plants to really appear and establish, apart from anything else, so I know where they are.
“Then I put the wigwams up so I’m not planting sweet peas and then find I’ve got a big clump of Rudbeckia growing up underneath them.”
He added: “The critical thing to get the best from your sweet peas is to remember that they are very greedy, very thirsty and they don’t like heat.
“So make sure the soil is rich, and boost it up with some compost if you’ve got it.
“And water them regularly until they get going.
“If it’s hot and dry – that would be lovely if we have a nice hot summer – but remember sweet peas won’t think it’s lovely and you will need to water them.”
Monty might be planting out sweet pea plants early in a bid to stagger the harvest, but they are usually planted out from late May, once all risk of frost has passed.
Gardeners’ World advises hardening off the plants by putting them out during the day and returning them to a frost-free place at night.
To encourage bushy growth, gardeners should pinch out the tips of young sweet pea plants when they reach about 10cm tall.
For gardeners who haven’t sown sweet peas, they can be bought in plant plugs.
Just plant them straight into fertile soil beneathsupport, such as a wigwam made of bamboo canes.
Most sweet peas will grow to about 2m in height.
When flower buds appear, it is advisable to feed the plants with a high potash fertiliser, such as tomato food.
Regular picking encourages more flowers to form, so keep picking those blooms for the vase.
In early September, gardeners can save sweet pea seeds.
Leave the seed pods on the plants until they have turned a paper bag colour.
Collect them on a dry day, remove them from their pods and store them in paper bags in a dry place until sowing season begins.
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