Over the past ten years, we’ve experienced an increasing number of droughts in spring and summertime. Applying a mulch now, while the ground is still moist from the autumn and winter rains will protect and enhance your soil, adding nutrients that will support soil microorganisims and feed your plants. Mulching will suppress weeds, and help the soil retain moisture. Early spring is the perfect time to apply an organic mulch of homemade garden compost, Strulch®, woodchip, well-rotted manure, or peat-free compost. Weed the ground thoroughly first and then spread the mulch out, leaving a 3-9cm (1-3inches) layer over the soil. Take care not to bury any plants or leave mulch covering stems or tree trunks; direct the mulch around plants, not over them!
This is the ideal time to sow sweet pea seeds. When choosing which seeds to sow, it’s important to remember that not all sweet peas produce flowers that are blessed with the intoxicatingly sweet and musky scent that we look for in a sweet pea flower. To grow sweet peas with gloriously scented flowers, it’s vital to sow seeds of varieties that are genuinely perfumed. Lathyrus odoratus ‘Romeo’, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cream Southbourne’, and Lathyrus odoratus ‘Kingfisher’ are just a few of the best scented varieties from my Sweet Pea Trials. Why not try them out yourself?
Sweet pea seeds can be sown directly in the soil in the spot where they’ll grow and flower, but I find that I achieve far better results when I sow sweet pea seeds in tall, deep pots filled with peat-free compost. In my Sweet Pea Trials, I’ve achieved the best results using Maxi Rootrainers filled with Dalefoot Wool Compost for Potting, but empty toilet rolls also work well.
There’s no need whatsoever to soak, scratch, sand, or chip sweet pea seeds before sowing. Just fill your containers up with compost, tap the containers to settle the compost; then water and sow your seeds. Push the seeds into the compost so the compost is just below your knuckle. Sweet peas are hardy. Leave the plants outdoors; they will be happier there than inside a greenhouse.
Create a wigwam or support frame before you begin planting. In the middle of May, plant your sweet peas outside in a sunny or partially shaded area of your garden or allotment.
To see the results of my Slug and Snail Trial and discover effective methods of protecting your seedlings from slugs and snails, please click here.
For more gardening advice for March, please click here.
To see my Calendar of Daffodil Garden Openings & Daffodil Shows, please click here.
To see my Calendar of Specialist Plant Fairs, plant Sales, Plant & Seed Swaps, please click here.