Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Reviewing How To Put The Garden To Bed For Winter



During late October and early November, I start putting the garden to bed. I like that expression, it makes me feel like I am doing my last caring duties for our garden this year and then the garden and myself can rest in the long cold dark days of winter.

Of course, there will always be jobs to do all year round. I do need to prune the climbing roses and I need to do a little hedge cutting later on, but the bulk of the autumn work in our garden is over and the best thing I can do now is to enjoy the autumn colors of the trees and plants still flowering or bearing berries and then let it rest. 




What Is Putting The Garden To Bed? 

Well for us it is to make sure that the plants in the garden can survive a winter full of winds, gales, heavy rain and snow.

Here are a few key tasks I do in my garden. This is not an exhaustive list and will depend on what sort of garden you have. 
 

Protect Plants From Wind Damage

I need to make sure that plants are not too damaged by high winds. So for example we have several lovely Buddleia and Lavataria. 

All summer they have given us beautiful flowers and attracted many bees and butterflies. They all grow very tall so are at risk of wind rock and breaking branches. So about October, I reduce their height using loppers by about half. This prevents any issues and still gives a decent size plant at about 4 feet high. In Spring I will prune the Buddleia to about a foot high but this autumn prune is simply to prevent damage.

I repeat this with any other shrubs or plants that may be in danger. For this, depending on the thickness of growth you may use loppers or shears or these Wolf ByPass Secateurs

However, never prune Spring flowering plants now or you will not have any flowers next year. Also, it is too late to prune lavender now as any tender new growth may be frost-damaged.




Care Of The Grass In Winter 

The last cut here will be around the end of October. We tend to leave the grass a little longer over winter but it is a personal thing. We use a manual lawnmower which suits our small lawn and us very well. If you are considering a new lawnmower here is my review of the Benefits And Drawbacks Of A Manual Lawnmower. 

It is useful to do autumn spiking of the lawn with a fork or special tool then brush grit into the holes to help with drainage. If you feel the lawn needs feeding now is the time to give it an autumn feed. 

The other main thing to do is to keep off the grass if you can when it is sodden with rain. Walking on it too much will cause damage. 




Uses Of Autumn Leaves

Gather fallen leaves into a wire netting bin or wooden bin or in bags with holes punched in for drainage, water well and leave to rot down so you can have lovely free leaf mold this time next year! 

Add a layer of mulch to your borders. A thick layer of leaves or compost will enrich the soil and make it a great habitat for worms and other beneficial insects that love to live in the soil.

Here Are More Details On The Joys And Uses Of Autumn Leaves 


Make A Wildlife Habitat This Autumn

One of the best things we can do this Autumn/Fall is to make more habitat for wildlife in our gardens. Anything we need to cut down do not throw away but make into a big pile in a quiet corner of the garden. I aim for as little as possible to leave the garden, rather to recycle it within the garden.

This pile of logs, leaves, sticks will make a great winter retreat for insects, spiders, hedgehogs and all manner of overwintering creatures.

In turn, they will make your garden a healthier more balanced place for predators and prey and nature to work is magic.  




Fleecing Tender Plants In Autumn

One of the main tasks we do is to buy a great roll of fleece and proceed to wrap up all the tender of more delicate plants. We do not have a large greenhouse so they all have to stay outdoors and most would not survive a winter left to fend for themselves.

If you do have a greenhouse then it is easy to just move all your tender plants in for the winter. 

However, I have found that a thick protective covering of fleece works really well. All I need to do then is to brush any snow off it. 

So each plant and most of these tender plants are in pots receives a cosy wrapping of fleece all the way around the pot base and the foliage. I leave the top open for if its a nice day but with enough material so I can close it right over if the weather is brutal. 

For many of the plants, I am most worried about the roots. If the foliage dies down or gets wind burnt it will usually grow back if the roots are strong. 

However, if the roots become frost-bound or starved of oxygen the plant will die. So especially for plants in pots, it is vital to protect the roots if nothing else. 




Ideally and especially for terracotta pots, you would first wrap the pot in bubble wrap or hessian then wrap the fleece over it and the foliage. If you do not have bubble wrap then use fleece over all of it.

For plants that really do not like our winters such as our beautiful Bottle Brush Plant I fleece them and also bring them into our sheltered porch.

Do buy the thicker fleece if you can. I have tried different fleeces and the thinner ones tear too easily and I usually have to double wrap the plant to feel it is protected.

With the thicker fleece, although slightly more expensive you only need to single wrap and so far I have not had any trouble with tearing. 


 


Move Tender Plants to A Sheltered Spot 

After all the tender pants are fleeced up I move them to their winter homes.

This is a place where they are kept as safe from high winds and cold as possible so against a house wall is good. Our Tree Peony in particular hates strong winds.  I group them together so that they get shelter from each other. 

As I do this before Halloween it has to be said that when all wrapped up our plants do look somewhat like cute little ghosts especially after dark and particularly when my husband decides to elaborate by putting black netting, lights or eyes and ghostly additions !!! The neighbourhood children do love it though! 




Care of Herbaceous Perennials 

For herbaceous perennials, the best thing you can do in autumn is nothing at all!

It used to be the time to tidy up all the herbaceous perennials, cutting them down and generally tidying them up.

 However, we now know that many insects use these plants to overwinter in their stems and foliage. For them, our untidy garden is a warm safe home. In order for nature to survive and thrive there is a worry that Are We Too Tidy In Our Gardens?

So for the good of nature and to relieve us of a task, we now need to do nothing. When new growth starts in the spring and the insects are no longer needing their warm homes and shelter and protection we can then cut back the old growth.   


Protection of Tender And New Cuttings Over Winter

Any tender and new cuttings I took are in small pots and I move all these into our little greenhouse on the patio for winter. It has a cover I can take off if the weather is reasonable and put down when it is cold or particularly windy. 

It is not heated and does not need to be, it just keeps the worst of the weather off the new cuttings and keeps them mostly free from frost. If I did not have this I would use a cold frame or even cover them all with fleece.



General Care Of The Garden In Winter

So when we have completed all these tasks it is so lovely to know that all our precious plants are warm and cosy and ready to rest through the winter.

I will of course need to periodically check them over to see that they are doing well. On sunny days I will uncover some of the less tender ones so they get some sunshine and remain hardy.

If it snows heavily I will brush off the worst from the plants. Other than that I do not need to concern myself with them. 

Then all we gardeners need to do is to sit down with a lovely mug of whatever you like, put your feet up, enjoy the beautiful autumn sights in the garden. Perhaps take a moment to drink in the beauty of your own autumn garden, window box, or patio and in nature and start dreaming of and planning for spring!

Take The Time to Stop Look and Listen In Your Garden





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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Care Of The Intriguing Carnivorous Venus Fly Trap House Plant Reviewed.

 

Venus Fly Trap
 

I am the recent caretaker of a Venus Fly Trap house plant.

I wasn't sure I wanted one of these carnivorous houseplants plants but hubby has wanted one for a long time so I purchased it for his birthday this year. 

From being really quite indifferent to this particular plant, I have developed a real interest and curiosity about it.

To be fair I had heard they were quite difficult to care for and I wasn't sure I was wanting the task of trying to keep it alive. 

However, I love how it is growing and flourishing in our home and it has been interesting learning all about it. The plant looks happy and has grown and developed well so that gives me joy! 

It is also named the species Dionaea muscipula -though there are many named cultivars with some different looks and habits. Part of the family of carnivorous plants, it only grows in a few places in nature now. Sadly habitat destruction has obliterated it from many of its sites. It can still be seen in the coastal bogs of North and South Carolinas.


Soil Conditions For A Venus Fly Trap

As for most of us, we will keep this plant in a plant pot so we need to copy its natural environment as much as possible. It likes to grow naturally in soil with very low nutrients and dampness all the time. However these days it is not advisable to use endangered peat supplies. So without using at-risk peat mixes you can buy specialist mixes or try the plant in sphagnum peat moss, or fine-milled bark mixed with lime-free horticultural sand or perlite, or just simply in pure sphagnum moss.

Repotting if needed should be done just before the end of winter, so around February for us before all the new regrowth begins.




Watering And Feeding Venus Fly Trap

With Venus Fly Traps watering is a fine balance. They do need the soil to be moist but not waterlogged, neither do they wish to dry out.

 So in the growing season, they like to be in a little standing water so I put a saucer under the draining pot and the saucer has a covering of water in it as it simulates the conditions it would have in the wild damp with higher humidity.

During winter the plant should be kept damp but they do not need so much water so I will likely remove the saucer and just make sure the soil is damp to the touch. 

This plant by far prefers rainwater. So I now keep a bucket outside to collect rainwater for this plant. If I forget then I do use tap water that has been left to stand for about 3 days to help dissipate the minerals and chemicals but even so, to be honest, it is not ideal and long term use of tap water is not good for Venus Fly Traps and will kill them.  

Venus Fly Traps which are kept outside will be able to find enough food for themselves. We put ours outside as much as possible on fine sunny days and the rest of the time on our sunny kitchen windowsill with the window mostly open and it certainly found enough food. 

If you really can't do that then it is possible to feed it yourself with freeze-dried mealworms, which can be bought from shops, but it is a specialist skill to read up on a specialist site. To be honest, it is not something I really want to have to do, so we will stick with a sunny open window and putting it outside as much as possible in summer! 

We do not need to use a plant fertilizer on a Venus Fly Trap, it is adapted to grow in nutrient-poor soil and feeding it in this way will only be harmful. 


Position in The Home For A Venus Fly Trap

A Venus Fly Trap will always require a sunny position in its growing season but does not like being in the direct hot sun all day. 

So aim for about 5 hours of bright sunlight. A sunny windowsill with the window open for part of the day is good. However, do not let it get scorched by the sun.

I have also during this summer put it outside in a sheltered sunny spot for a few hours and it really did seem to like that. 

I would also keep it out of reach of small children and pets, not so much that it is any danger to them but constant touching of the plant's traps, which are often fascinating to children,  may cause it to die. 


 


Winter With A Venus Fly Trap

We have not yet been through a winter with our plant but there are a few things to bear in mind for its survival. 

They do need a period of winter dormancy which in the UK is around November to the beginning of March. As they live in our homes, not the wild environment we need to try to replicate that so they need to have somewhere cold to rest.

We will therefore be moving ours from its sunny warm spot on our kitchen windowsill to a colder place in our home. If I had an unheated greenhouse it could go in there but instead, I will move it to a cold windowsill that is north facing. It's the coolest place in our home and I am hoping it will be cold enough. 

I have been warned not to panic during winter as the leaves will turn black and the beautiful little plant will die right back. At this point, we will trim off any dead growth. Then it is just a matter of keeping it damp and waiting for new growth in Spring! 


Information About the "Traps"

As it is a carnivorous plant its method of gaining nutrition is a little more gruesome than with most plants. It first needs to attract its prey which it does by exuding sweet nectar. 

The flies come in and movement triggers the tiny hairs and then the trap snaps shut just like a cage from which the insect cannot escape.

After that digestive enzymes dissolve the insect and use it for nutrition. The traps stay shut for about 5-8 days then open up again to restart the process with the added bonus, if you are a Fly Trap- of the leftover carcass also being used to attract more prey. 

I feel I should say at this point that we have not noticed any more flies coming in due to having this plant. In fact, we probably have less making it past the plant into the house now!

New Young Traps Forming On Venus Fly Trap


The Cycle Of The Traps

When a trap has opened and closed a few times, probably around five times, it goes black and dies off. For that particular trap, it is the end.

However, before that happens we see several new traps growing to take their place.

At first, I did not think they would grow large enough to keep the plant alive before the older ones died but nature knows what it is doing and the new traps grew and were big enough by the time the older ones died. 

I am more than happy to see now that when I bought it only had 4 traps and now it has double that amount so this shows the plant is happy. Over time and with care it will get better and bigger. 

Children find these Venus Fly Traps fascinating and the book below is a great informative and fun introduction to these amazing little houseplants. 


 


 A Word Of Warning About Venus Fly Traps

If you have one of these fascinating plants it is very important not to test out the traps by putting your finger or a pencil etc inside them. 

While it may seem like fun, to the plant it is torture. Every time the trap shuts it uses up energy and if there is no food in the trap then it has just wasted so much energy. Traps only close about 5 or 6 times before they die so if it is tormented like this with no food it will deplete the plant and eventually the whole plant may die. 

However, you cannot really hurt yourself on this plant. Just avoid touching it as much as possible for its own sake. 


Venus Fly Trap On Sunny Windowsill


So having been initially quite wary of this carnivorous houseplant the Venus Fly Trap, I am now more than fascinated with it and it is an unusual addition to our houseplant collection!


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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Review of Sunflower Facts and Photographs

Fields of Sunflowers


Each year during the month of July, I anxiously wait for the sunflower fields to bloom.  Several years ago I discovered some sunflower fields in the Missouri river bottom land about 10 miles from my house.  My granddaughters were visiting and I took them to the fields to take some photographs.  I wrote this article telling about my experience in photographing the sunflowers. Photographing Sunflowers   

Before they Bloom

In reading about sunflowers I have found that there are actually five stages in the life of the sunflower.  Three of those stages take place before they bloom.
 
1.  The first stage, the germination stage, takes places when the seeds are planted.  This stages takes about eight days.  After the seeds are planted the roots develop and seep into the ground and then a shoot will start peaking out of the ground in search of sunlight that it needs to grow.
 
2.  The second stage is called the vegetative phase.  During the first 13 days after the seedling starts its  growth toward the sun it is in the vegetative emergence stage.  Then the first leaf comes and it is now in stage 1 of the vegetative phase, a second leaf comes and it is now in stage 2, this keeps on as  more leaves are added to the stalk.
 
3.  The third stage is called the reproduction phase.  In this stage a bud will form between the cluster of leaves.  It will initially be star like in appearance but in time will grow into the tall beautiful plants with bright yellow flowers that we know so well.  This whole stage takes about 30 days.  In our area I know that this stage should be coming to an end in mid to late July.  This year I was out with friends in mid July and we decided to take a drive to see how the sunflower fields were coming along.  They were right in the middle of the reproductive stage and I got some nice  photos of the flowers in this stage.
Reproductive Phase


Blooming Stage

During the blooming stage the sunflowers are in full bloom. During this phase you will see lots of bees busy fertilizing and pollinating the flowers.  This stage will only last for about 20 days so I knew I had to get back to the fields quickly if I wanted to see the fields in full bloom.  Fortunately about a week after my first visit a friend posted some photos  showing the flowers in full bloom.  I grabbed my camera and hopped in my car and headed right out to take some photos.  I was rewarded with the following glorious sights.




Harvesting Phase

After the blooms are finished the seeds are harvested.  You will want to wait till the flowers turn brown and start to bloom and then you cut the stems about 4 inches from the head of the flowers. Sunflower heads should be stored upside down in a dry and breathable bag.

Sunflowers are annuals so they must be replanted each year.

Fun Facts and more Sunflower Photos

The Sunflower has been named the plant of the year for 2021.  In her review of this information, Olivia Morris shares more fun facts and photos about the Sunflower.  Hope for the New Year Sunflowers Plant

Zazzle Products from My Photographs

I enjoy making cards and other Zazzle products from my photos.  Here are a couple I hope you like.



Here some more Zazzle Sunflower gifts from my photographs.

 




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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Reviewing The Benefits and Drawbacks Of A Manual Lawn Mower


This is my personal review of our manual lawnmower. Over the years we have had maybe five or six lawnmowers all electric, apart from one petrol powered one.

However, last year we bought a manual lawnmower. I am not really sure why we decided to do that, but I know we were fed up with our electric ones breaking down or cutting the cord accidentally and the whole hassle of fixing up extension leads inside the house as we have no outside power. The one petrol lawnmower we had was very heavy and noisy and really too big for us and our lawn and neither of us liked it.

The electric one had just given up, more expensive to fix than to buy another one and of course, it was at peak mowing time so we needed another one quickly.

Searching For A Lawn Mower

We started trawling Amazon for lawnmowers. We did not want a petrol mower as we do not have a massive amount of lawn and it would have been too much. We were fed up with electric lawnmowers and all the issues we had found with them. 

So we decided to hone in on manual lawnmowers. At first, I was not sure this was a good idea. My husband has health issues and I need to be careful with my back having a history of severe back problems. I wasn't sure we would be able to push it without added power.

I also wasn't sure if it would cut effectively. It felt in this age of technology, powered appliances and high specifications to be a step backward. Yet in a way also felt completely appropriate for our nature-friendly, wildlife garden and for the more power-saving, environmentally aware times we live in.

The manual lawnmower we found had an appealing price point and looked very sturdy and we were fed up replacing lawnmowers too often. So we bought a Bosch manual lawn mower. 


Bosch Manual Lawn Mower


Our First Experience Of A Manual Lawn Mower.

When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised that it was sturdy looking but not too heavy.

Set up was easy with only the long handles to fix to the frame which even for us was easy. We never fitted the grassbox as we intended to cut the lawn often and have always found a grassbox to be an encumbrance. However, the grassbox is there if we ever need it. 

Hubby was the first to try to in the garden. We set the blades on high and he simply pushed it and it cut cleanly and efficiently.  After a few laps he stopped and said it was really easy to push and no more work than our previous electric mowers! In fact, he seemed to be rather enjoying it!

So then I tried it and to my joy, it was indeed easy to push and did not hurt my back that time or any other time I have mowed the lawn.

For some reason I have yet to pin down it always seems more fun to use than our powered ones ever did!  

So after using this manual lawnmower for nearly a year now we have found clear benefits and drawbacks as we see it from our personal experience.

Manual Lawn Mower Is Easy To Use


Benefits Of A Manual Lawnmower

It is easier to push than we expected and no more physical strength is required than with our previous powered mowers

Much quieter than our electric or petrol mowers and it has quite a soothing muted sound

There are no electricity costs and no petrol costs. So we can mow to our heart's content knowing we are not incurring any ongoing financial costs at all! This is great for us as power costs are due to rise by a significant amount, so any savings are good. 

Regarding the environment, there are no emissions from a manual lawn mower so this is all good for our planet.

There is the joy of knowing that never again will we cut through an electric cable!

With no trailing wires, no extension leads required, no outdoor power needed and no wires trailing from the house into the garden, it is an easy-use tool.  

Fewer components mean there is less to go wrong

The manual lawn mower is ready to go as soon as you are! We now have no worries that it won't start or that a component will suddenly go wrong.

Close Up Of Bosch Manual Lawnmower, blades, wheels and roller


Even with battery lawnmowers you have the battery life or recharging to concern yourself with, while with a totally manual machine none such concerns. 

Significantly better for wildlife. We don't disturb any more wildlife using our manual lawnmower than we would with our presence walking down the garden. 

The frogs, toads,  hedgehogs and birds -especially fledglings - have plenty of time to move away from it and there's no risk if any of them getting caught up by the blades.


Fledgling Baby Robin 


To us, it does appear to give a better cleaner cut rather than tearing the grass.

It was less expensive than other powered mowers we have purchased in the past.

As it has a smaller footprint than most powered mowers it is easier to store and takes up less space. 

We can carry it easily as it is not too heavy, though it is sturdy. 

The manual lawnmower feels safer around wildlife, pets and children as there are no wires for them to get caught up in or trip over. There is no electricity to worry about and no fast-moving blades. We do take all the usual safety precautions of course. 

Hedgehog In Our Garden


Drawbacks Of A Manual Lawnmower

I do think that if you have a very large lawn a manual lawnmower will take more time to achieve the task. While it is perfectly possible to cut a large lawn with a manual lawn mower you will need to decide if you wish to do that. 

We find you need to cut a little more often than with a powered mower as it is much easier to cut shorter grass than longer grass with it.

If you attach the grassbox you may need to empty it more often, but I think if you cut more often this would not be an issue. 

Long grass will be more difficult to cut and certainly take more effort. Little and often is easier to cut than letting the grass grow longer which makes it harder to cut and then does require more physical power.

It is not so good at cutting wet grass as it does take more effort and seems to clog up more easily, but we rarely try to cut wet grass anyway even with our powered mowers, preferring to cut it when it is dry.

We will need to sharpen the blades every few years with our size lawn, but given the saving in electricity, this will not be a cost issue.   

Ours does have a roller but many manual mowers won't have rollers, so stripes will be more difficult to achieve. If this is important to you check that you can achieve stripes with it. If you want one with a roller function do check all the specifications. 

If you are considering a manual lawn mower do research properly what is important to you in a lawnmower. We bought a Bosch Manual Lawnmower and there are many more choices that are equally suitable. 

Here is a selection to browse. Do consider what you need in a manual lawn mower and read all the specifications carefully.


Happy With Our Manual Lawn Mower 

In summary, we are both really happy with our Bosch manual lawn mower. We have owned it for nearly a year now with no issues at all and are very content that we never need to worry about it breaking down or not starting. 

We don't worry about wires or electricity costs. We have no need to worry about safety with wildlife or pets or children getting caught up in the wires or blades. Obviously, the blades are sharp so you would take all the usual precautions regarding children and any type of machinery. 

We find it a gentle, easy, quiet way to mow our smallish lawn that is environmentally and wildlife-friendly and does not annoy us or the neighbours. 

Bosch Manual Lawnmower


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Monday, August 9, 2021

Reviewing Growing Annual Sweet Pea Plants And Flowers


 
Of all the annual flowers I think sweet peas are my favourite. I love the beautiful flowers and the delicious scent. They are climbers and so great to have flowers that take up very little space. They are also so beautiful in a vase in the house.

They are annuals which means that they set seeds, grow and produce flowers and seed pods, then die all in one year. You cannot usually keep them from year to year, but you can buy new seeds each year quite inexpensively. 

Sweet peas are so easy to grow and care for and are worth anyone having a go. This article is about growing and enjoying sweet peas, not growing them for showing or breeding which is more specialised. 



 Buying Sweet Peas Seeds


 You can buy sweet pea seeds from many places. Here are a couple of things to look out for.

I love my sweet peas to be scented so if you do want scent make sure it says scented on the packet.

Some scents are stronger than others and that is a personal choice. Check carefully if you prefer a floral, fruity, musky, fresh or heavy scent. 

If you are wanting a particular colour then you will need to look specifically for that colour. I often buy a packet of just white or cream. If you are planning to pick them for a wedding these colours are particularly beautiful. 

Many seed packets are mixed colours but you may choose from pinks and purples to burgundy and reds. 

Some Sweet Peas are the older or even heritage varieties, others are more modern so again it is a choice of what you enjoy. There really is something for everyone! 



 Sowing Your Sweet Pea Seeds


 There are a huge variety of sweet pea seeds for sale. You can buy them in multi-colored packs or packs of for example cream or white only. Check the packet carefully for if they are fragrant or not as well.

Some will have longer stems than others so if you really want to grow them mainly for the house it is better to choose long-stemmed varieties for vases. Otherwise, it does not matter. There are heritage and new varieties and really we are spoiled for choice! 

 Once you have made your choice or like me decided you cannot choose so buy several different packets, you can sow seeds in Spring or in Autumn. 

The autumn sowing will mean earlier flowers but you will need to look after them over autumn/winter. This means you will need a frost-free place for them to be all autumn and winter and will need to keep an eye on them.

 The Spring sowing will result in later flowers but the whole process is during spring and summer and you will not need a special place for them.

 I generally sow in Spring but if I had space in a greenhouse or cold frame I would do an autumn sowing as well to prolong the flowering season. 

 Sweet peas are not too fussy about soil. For the seeds, I use a mix of any ordinary compost with some grit added for extra drainage.

 Sweet peas generally germinate well. I sow mine in either small pots or plug trays or even in toilet roll holders. They do develop long roots so a taller container is better.  Any container that is not too large but is long enough for nice deep roots to form is good.



 Planting Out Sweet Pea Plants


Once you can see the roots have formed well and the plants have several proper leaves we can think about planting out. However, it is very important that we only plant out after the frosts have finished for the year. This can be tricky to predict but know your local weather conditions from year to year.

Where I live we are usually safe from late May/early June. Then it is simply a matter of digging a hole slightly larger than the plants' rootball and you can plant the whole plug out into the garden. Carefully fill in around the planting hole and gently firm in. 

 It is worth noting that If you have kept your plants in warm sheltered conditions then I would advise that you take them out in the daytime and back in at night for a period of one to two weeks to acclimatize them to outdoor conditions gradually before planting out for good.


Do only plant out strong healthy plants. If they are too thin and weak or struggling they will quickly become prey to slugs and will not grow well or at all. So plant out only the strong growing healthy ones. The weaker ones can either be discarded or I like to give them a chance by continuing to grow on in a small pot. Give them all a really good soaking with water after you have planted them. 

I would advise planting out on a day that is not too hot and sunny just so that they do not get too stressed. A warm but not too hot day is about right. They do like moisture-retentive soil which is fine on our clay mix soil. However, if you have sandy or chalky soil it is best to dig a large hole much bigger than the area you are going to plant in and fill it with good compost, manure or similar to enrich the soil. Then put your supports in and plant the sweet peas. 

 Sweet peas can also be planted out into large pots and grown up a tripod in the pot. I think they look rather lovely this way and you can see all the way around the pot which makes for better viewing and easier picking. The soil can be ordinary compost with a little grit or perlite mixed in for better drainage.

Sweet peas do like a sunny spot if possible. In a large pot they will require much more watering than in the ground, so never let them dry out, the soil must be kept moist. 



 Tieing in Sweet Peas


Most sweet peas are self-climbers so they produce curly tendrils that latch on to any support and grow upwards. Some do need tieing in regularly as they have no tendrils. I usually buy the self-clinging ones and provide support for them to grow up.

Support can be anything from canes with string, a tripod with additional string, or another tall plant they can scramble up. I have grown mine this year up Bamboo canes and also alongside our Metal Garden Swing Seat tied in with ordinary string. 

I tie in a few stems to begin with to give them a good start, then every so often if they are growing too far out from the support. I just use soft string and tie loosely so as not to damage the stems. 



 Picking Sweet Pea Flowers. 


This is the beauty of sweet peas, you must regularly pick the flowers! For many plants, you have to make the decision to either pick the flowers for a display in the home or to have the flowers in the garden. With sweet peas, you get the best of both worlds!! You must pick the flowers in order to get more flowers! 

So usually once a week I go over all our sweet peas in the back garden. Then once a week on another day I pick all those in the front garden. That way I always have sweet peas in the garden and a vase or two of sweet peas in the house.




When you pick them use a sharp pair of scissors and cut right at the base of the stem so that you get as long a stem as possible. Put them in water immediately. I carry a jar of water with me and they go in straightaway. Then I can transfer to a prettier jar, glass, or vase in the house. 

 If you don't pick the flowers regularly they will quickly go to seed and you will see these seed pods like in the photo.
I left these without picking to show you and now there will be no more flowers on that specific plant for the rest of the year. So the motto is to keep picking the flowers!!  



 Watering And Feeding Sweet Pea Plants.


 If it rains regularly you may not need to water at all. However, we have been having a heatwave here and so I do water the ground thoroughly soaking it about once or twice a week. Do not water the plant's leaves only the soil.

Once the flowers start to appear I give them a fertiliser feed about once a week with a high potash feed, something like a tomato feed is good, but if I forget they are always just fine.


Sweet Pea Flowers In The Home.


The flowers are so pretty and the scent is so gorgeous that it would not be summer without sweet peas in our home. They can scent a room beautifully and look so pretty. I just pick them with longest stems possible and pop them in a vase or as here in a wine glass. I like them to look natural and so I just pop them in the vase as they fall.

 Some people may want to do more flower arranging or make a gorgeous arrangement with other flowers which would be stunning.  I just pop them in a vase by themselves which I think looks pretty.  They last around a week in the vase then by then there are more from the garden. 

 Flowers are always fleeting though and so for a more permanent record of the flowers and plants in our garden and countryside, I do take a lot of photos each year and make some into greetings cards and gifts, you can see some of them on my Blog Raintree Earth Design. 

However you grow them in the garden or in a container, to enjoy in the garden or pick for the home, Sweet peas are such easy beautiful annuals to grow and enjoy. Adults and children can grow them and they are a lovely introduction to growing annuals.

 Their scent is so beautiful and there are many different scents, the colours are many and varied and you will never tire of them.




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