January is a funny time for gardeners, we start the new year with plans and seed catalogues and hope. Only to realise there is very little we can plant in January except for a few things and one of those things is Sweet Peas. Sweet peas in January are the gardener’s saviour – something to look forward to in the summer.
Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are probably the most popular annual flower, being especially prized for their colour and scent. There is nothing nicer in the garden than their heady perfumed smell and no they are not edible but they bring in pollinators for the Organic Vegetable garden and are beautiful in my kitchen.
How to start Sweet peas in January
Sweet peas can be started indoors anytime between October and March. October sowing is better I won’t lie but if like me you completely forgot to do it January is still okay to start them off if you follow these tips.
Sweet peas often have a hard seed coat making them more difficult to germinate. To soften the seed coat, place seeds on a layer of moist kitchen tissue in an airtight container in a warm room, and sow as soon as they swell or begin to sprout. Don’t soak the seeds.
Chip the seeds
This is giving the hard coats a little nick of a gardening knife. This basically tells the seed to start growing, releasing hormones within the seed which in turn initiates germination.
Find the right pots
Sweet peas have long roots that don’t take too kindly to disturbance. you can use root-trainers – long, thin pots. But in a bid to reduce my carbon footprint, and use of plastic, I’m going to use cardboard toilet roll middles this year to sow my sweet peas in. Just fill them to the top with multi-purpose or seed compost and moisten the surface with a little water.
After I’ve filled them up I’ll push one sweet pea seed to about 2cm (3/4 in) below the surface of the compost.
Looking after the seedlings:
I’ll leave them in my utility room until they germinate- basically anywhere that has an ambient temperature of 15°C (59°F). I’ll cover them with a propagator lid for humidity until they germinate and then they’re outside by day on mild days when they are around 7cm (3in) to harden them off until they are ready to plant out in March or April- depending on how our winter fares.
When every seedling has three to four pairs of leaves pinch out the top to encourage side branches and more flowers.
- Remember to protect young plants from Slugs
- Drought and temperature stress causes scorched foliage and bud drop. Protect young plants if significant temperature drop is forecast, and always harden off indoor raised plants before planting out. Water during dry weather and avoid getting the foliage and blossom wet
- Seedlings may grow weak and leggy, which is caused by insufficient light and excess warmth. If this occurs, move seedlings to a cooler and brighter spot
Pruning and training
Sweet peas are usually allowed to scramble up pea sticks, canes wigwams or trellis. Alternatively, use post and netting supports. Use dwarf bush-type sweet peas for pots, hanging baskets or as ground cover.
For a long and regular supply of blooms:
Cut flowers frequently, before they produce seed pods and enjoy the gorgeous smell that these pretty flowers bring into your home.
Varieties of Sweet peas to start in January ( from l-r)
- Sweet Pea Seeds – Spencer Special Mix – A bright colour range that makes excellent cut flowers. Seed selected from first-class sweet peas, many of them fragrant.
- Sweet Pea Seeds – Melody Mix – A superb, re-selected bicolour mixture, containing larger flowers than many other bicolours; and sweetly scented!
- Sweet Pea Seeds – Cupani – Species introduced to Britain in 1699 by a monk: Brother Cupani. Bicoloured flowers, maroon upper petals with violet ‘wings’, making lovely cut flower posies with a beautiful deep scent.
If you have finished all your 10 Jobs you can do in the Organic Vegetable Garden- Early January you can sow some Sweet peas in January and start your garden off.
Hope you enjoyed this post and happy gardening if you are looking for more things to do in the Garden in January
- Chitting Potatoes in January – How and Why
- Winter Feeding the birds in your Garden
- Growing Spinach in Winter
And today if you sign up for the Snapshot and Snippets newsletter you get free garden printables to help you start your vegetable garden.
Share this post ====>