Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sweet Peas by Irene Shonle

An annual plant I love to grow in my mountain garden is the sweet pea.  I love the fragrance, and it appreciates our cool summers, flowering all season long, often attracting hummingbirds.

Probably again due to our cool summers, I find that they don’t tend to bloom very early in the summer unless they are started inside.

I usually start mine in mid-late March, growing them in a pot, which I will then put outside on my porch, twining it up the post for a nice fragrant welcome home.

My welcome home....
This year, I forgot to nick the seed coats (which aids in germination).  I was dismayed to see only ONE pea germinate out of two pots.  Doh!
Doh! Only one seed germinated because I forgot to nick the seeds.

I quickly got more seed out and nicked them with a fingernail clipper before replanting.  I hope to soon see many more emerge from the soil, and hope they'll catch up, even though they're about three weeks behind.
Nick sweet pea seeds with a fingernail clipper to help with germination

During the summer, I never let a sweet pea go to seed, because seed set will prevent new flowering.  I pinch off all the old flowers.  However, as August arrives, I let some go to seed, so I can save some for the following year.    Wait until the “peas” are completely brown and starting to split open before harvesting.  The seeds should be dry and dark brown.

 A note of caution – sweet peas are poisonous, so never eat them, and teach your kids to never eat them.

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