Sweet peas were the first successfully abundant thing I grew since establishing the garden. In this post I discuss: my inspiration to grow sweet peas, when and how I got started, what I did to maintain, and a couple improvements I would make next year.
My inspiration to grow sweet peas…
If you haven’t heard of Floret Farm, drop everything and go buy Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakien. I have always been inspired to grow what you can eat – that is, flowers and flower farming hadn’t been my passion until I read Erin Benzakien’s book. She makes flower farming accessible and inspiring to the novice flower gardeners.
I also love the smell of fresh cut sweet peas – fresh, sweet and deliciously fragrant. When they are in bloom, it signals to me that “Spring is here.”
When and how I got started…
When I started researching how to grow sweet peas, there were mixed schools of thought – overwinter OR to start about a month before last frost date. Simply put, overwintering refers to planting your crop in mid-fall to allow the crop to establish a root system, lie dormant during colder winter months, and emerge in early spring. The primary advantage I saw to this method was that I would get blooms sooner. Also, since I garden in USDA Zone 10b, my winters are mild/ non-existent – there is no “frost date.”
Next thing, let’s talk seeds. We’ll save my seed obsession and organization for another post but let’s talk about the varieties of sweet peas I grew overwintered.
- Mollie Rilstone (Floret Farm)
- Spring Sunshine Champagne (Floret Farm)
- Bouquet Blend (Botanical Interests)
- Perfume Delight (Botanical Interests)
- Old Spice (Botanical Interests)
Soak the seeds ~8 hours prior to sowing. This encourages germination.
I set up several cinder blocks stacked on top of each other on the side yard (the raised beds and backyard were still under construction). I direct sowed the pre-soaked seeds in the soil filled cinder blocks. *this is where I messed up* I didn’t label what I planted! Organization is key. I wasn’t able to tell what was what!
Once the sweet peas germinated, I placed some stakes in the cinder blocks. A little bit later, I tied the sweet peas to the stakes. According to Floret, this would encourage longer and straighter stem growth. The proof is in the pudding! Below you will see how much straighter the stems grew after some reinforcement.
And in a little bit of time… I was drowning in deliciously fragrant sweet peas. Sweet peas are “cut and come again” meaning that the more you cut, the more they grow – cutting and harvesting sweet peas regularly encourages more growth and prevents the plant from going to seed. Going to seed refers to when the plant has finished producing flowers and will begin producing seeds – signaling the end of its season.
And when I say drowning in sweet peas… I mean it! From about 8 cinder block planters I cut all these sweet peas: