{luck of the Irish to you & your sweet peas!}

I know it should be a clover - but St. Pat's day is all about Sweet Peas for me!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!! My post is a little late for those of us in Oz but somewhere in the world it's still ok to drink a pint of Guinness for breakfast!

For me St. Pat's day isn't so much about beer before noon but the day to sow my sweet pea seeds! This year I'm even more excited as I was lucky enough to be given some seed pods of Lathyrus odoratus 'Cupani original', the original sweet pea found by the Franciscan monk Fr. Cupani in Sicily and sent to England in 1699 where it was first cultivated. 'Cupani original' bears clusters of maroon-purple flowers with the trademark heady sweet pea fragrance, stronger than modern day varieties. 

I find it hard to single out certain flowers as my favourites, but  for their sentimental value Sweet Peas would be very close to the top of the list. Their delicious fragrance has such strong memories attached as my mum would have them in her garden every spring and cut bunches of them to put in our bedrooms. They were the first thing I planted in our new garden when we moved in. Don't mind the moving boxes or arranging furniture, I quickly worked over a little patch of dirt so as I could get some seedlings planted in time for spring blooms! To me a house is not a home until you can pick your own bunch of sweet peas to have by your bedside.
My first sweet peas - along with other favourites such as Snapdragons!
Some hints and tips for your Sweet Peas!
  • Traditionally planted on St. Patrick's Day (17th March), can be sown anytime March to April.
  • Pre-germinate seeds by placing them on wet kitchen towel or mix with moist seed-raising mix. Plant out plumped seeds carefully, especially if they have already begun to sprout, 2-3cm deep and 5-7cm apart.  
  • Best in soil with pH between 7 and 8, hence recommendations to add lime to soil prior to planting
  • Add a generous layer of compost and animal manure to the soil along with a mixed fertiliser, not too high in nitrogen though, dig through to a depth of 10-15cm
  • If the soil is too wet, seeds will rot. Prevent this by creating a raised planting bed for the seeds to improve drainage.
  • They like plenty of sun so if growing on a trellis run rows north-south to maximise the amount of sun received
  • Support plants with either a trellis, tripod or mesh. Dwarf varieties which grow to 25-60cm are ideal for borders, rockeries and pots
  • Erect support prior to planting so as not to disturb establishing root system
  • Prune any spindly plants to promote stronger growth
  • Deadhead spent blooms to promote flowering
  • To discourage powdery mildew, space plants to improve air circulation and avoid wetting leaves when watering
  • Water regularly, especially in hot weather, use a liquid fertiliser fortnightly

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