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How To Grow Early Sweet Peas

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Sweet peas are one of the nation’s favourite flowers and they are easy to grow. The original plants were introduced to Britain more than 300 years ago and are thought to have originally been a purplish-magenta coloured hybrid taken from plants growing in the wild.
What you'll need: 
Sweet pea seeds
Sweet peas can be sown as early as February for an early summer display.
Before planting it helps to nick the seeds to speed up germination. This means breaking through the tough out coating of each seed with a penknife, or rubbing them gently with sandpaper.
Soak overnight in water.
Sweet peas have long roots and hate to be disturbed, so use the inside cardboard tube of a toilet roll filled with potting compost to grow the plants since this minimises the need to handle or break up the root ball when planting out.
A one-litre ice cream container holds six tubes and provides an excellent window sill planter system. Plant one seed per tube and keep them moist by watering with a spray from the top to allow the moisture to seep down.
Keep the plants at about 41F/5C until they have germinated but don’t plant out too early in case of late frosts.
Plant the tubes containing the plants directly into the soil and if necessary cover with fleece to protect them at night. Provide sticks or trellis for them to climb.
Alternatively, plant the tubes into 12” pots and mingle with your runner beans for a lovely display of colour.
Many of today’s varieties of sweet pea have been bred for the size of the flowers rather than for the delicate perfume that gave the flower its name. If it’s the perfumed variety you’re after, make sure you ask the right questions at the garden centre when buying seeds or plants.


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