Sowing the seeds of love
Author: Patrick Wiltshire
I’m a lover of walking, fresh air and I appreciate the beauty of UK landscape. It would be only too fitting to lessen my carbon footprint; and I’m going to do this by carrying out lots of little tasks over the course of the year.
I’m going to start my ‘green’ year with some seed-sowing, mainly to give me flower colour in the garden. I’m looking forward to seeing pollinators like pretty butterflies and honey bees in my garden. I’ll also be playing a role in adding oxygen to the atmosphere, which gets quite a hammering, it’s fair to say.
Anything I can do to offset my carbon footprint in the next 12 months will be a bonus.
Right then, let’s start….
I’m starting off with sweet peas for January;
This takes me back to my Wisley Trainee days sowing sweet peas at the beginning of the year. Wisley, the RHS flagship garden, has a practically industrial-scale process in place for sowing hundreds of sweet pea seeds to excellent standards (like sweet pea Blackberry). I’m going to take the best bits of this process, scaling down though for home-growing in my slightly more humble garden.
Chip the seeds (right): give 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.
Fill the right pots: sweet peas have long roots that don’t take too kindly to disturbance. I usually use root-trainers – long, thin pots. 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.
Keep them sweet: 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. I’ll remind you of this in February but it’s good to give you a heads up.
See the seeds of all the colourful sweet peas we have – tall wall-side border varieties and dwarf hanging basket varieties.