Gardeners’ World: Monty Don on sweet peas
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Gardeners’ World lead host Monty Don, 67, said sowing sweet peas in October allows the plant to develop stronger roots and produce “more flowers”. Monty explained: “Now it’s time to consider sowing sweet peas. If you sow sweet peas in October, you simply give the plant more time to develop a root system, and that means it’s going to have more flowers.
“The other thing is it’ll be earlier. Given the hot dry weather, we’re increasingly getting in the middle of summer, it’s good to get your flowers out as early as possible to enjoy them.”
Monty said this year his sweet peas were “gone” by the end of July due to the hot weather. The gardening expert said sweet peas “really hate hot, dry weather”.
The gardening pro said to sow some sweet peas now and then another batch in March.
Monty said gardeners need to use the “same technique” when sowing sweet peas. He likes to use three-inch pots which he has had for years and recycled.
The Gardeners’ World lead host said to sow three seeds to each pot.
Another method people “swear by” is using root trainers. Sweet peas have got a long taproot so root trainers – which are long and thin – allow the plant’s roots to grow straight downwards.
Root trainers are used for pre-sowing deep-rooting plants that need to be planted early I the season.
They come with their own tray and can be opened out like a book so when it comes to planting, gardeners don’t need to pull the plant out which can potentially damage the plant.
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Monty added: “In principle, these work really well and I highly recommend them in practice.
“My system of growing them in the pots seems to be just as effective but I do use both. Either way you want to use a compost that is rich.
“These are hungry, greedy plants. You buy your normal peat-free compost, add in, ideally, sieved garden compost or failing that buy a bag of soil conditioner and add some of that.”
Monty decided to plant two varieties of sweet peas. The first one was sweet pea ‘Cupani’ which is known for its beautiful delicate flowers and “fantastic” scent.
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The other variety Monty planted was sweet pea ‘Painted Lady’ which has a “lovely pink colour”.
While planting sowing the seeds, Monty shared debunked a common myth about planting sweet pea seeds.
He explained: “You may have read or been told that you should soak sweet pea seeds first or that you need to nick them with a sharp knife in order for them to germinate.
“I have never done either, and they have always germinated.”
Monty planted some of the seeds into the root trainers. When sowing these seeds, he ensured there was one seed to each pot.
Once the seeds were planted, he sprinkled some compost over the top. He then suggested leaving them somewhere warm to germinate.
He said: “Put them somewhere warm to germinate. It doesn’t need to be a heated greenhouse. A windowsill will do fine, a porch, as long as it stays above about 15C – and water them well.
“These should never be allowed to dry out, and really importantly, label them.
“Once they’ve germinated, then they can be moved, ideally to a cold frame, but as long as they’re protected from frost and torrential rain, they will grow into young plants and then they will stop growing around about sort of the middle of November.
“They’ll overwinter and start again as soon as the days get longer at the beginning of February.”
Gardeners’ World airs tonight at 9pm on BBC Two.
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