Sweet Peas: Planting Out and Supporting
Seeds sown in boxes or pots in autumn are usually ready for planting out in their permanent positions as early in March as the soil and weather conditions permit. Plants raised from seeds sown in the spring will be ready for planting out from late April to the end of May.
The two main ways of growing sweetare the bush method and the cordon. The bush method is simple for it allows the plants to grow in a natural, unrestricted way, but the cordon method is more elaborate and involves much more time and attention.
Plant in groups of two or three, allowing 8 or 9 in. between the groups, or plant singly 6 in. apart.
Always transplant very firmly, getting the roots well down, using a trowel rather than a dibber for this purpose.
SUPPORTING THE PLANTS
Support the plants with long pea sticks, or by wire or cord netting fastened to.
In cordon growing, quantity is sacrificed for quality. An extensive root system is encouraged by deep digging, liberal manuring and the restriction of growth above ground to one or two leaders, or main stems, to each plant.
The result of throwing all the energy from an enlarged root system into such a restricted plant is that all the growth above ground (including the size of the flowers) is very much larger than it would be otherwise, but the number of flowers produced per plant is, of course, proportionately smaller.
Plant 6 in. apart in double rows, allowing 15 in. between the rows. Space the pairs of double rows at least 3 ft. apart.
Support the leaders with 8-ft. Bamboo canes fastened to wires drawn taut to posts at the ends of the double rows. When the plants are 12 or 15 in. high, start restricting their growth by cutting off, with a sharp knife or scissors, all side growths except the strongest basal side growth, or the two strongest in the case of exceptionally vigorous varieties. Rub out between finger and thumb the tiny side shoots as soon as they develop in the leaf axils, and pinch off the tendrils as soon as they can be handled. Do not allow the plants to flower until they are 2-½ to 3 ft. high, or until the first flower stems bearing four buds appear.