HOW TO GROW SWEET PEAS WITH KIDS
Sowing Sweet Peas with the kids is a wonderful fun activity for all ages. The seeds are large enough for small hands to handle, and It’s a great excuse to think about those long summer days. Today we’re spending a miserable January day sowing our Sweet Pea seeds. Dreaming of Summer!
There is nothing better than the smell of Sweet Peas on a hot Summer’s day.
Sweet peas can grow up to 8 feet tall and come in all sorts of colours from red, purple, lilac, white, pink and blue. They can be grown in full sun or light shade, and need a moist, fertile soil. We plant ours in our allotment plot to attract ‘good’ bugs and wildlife to help us keep the unwelcome bugs at bay from our veggies.
A little bit of fun!
We began our Annual Sweet Pea competition in December, when we dug a long trench (hole)
Over the winter, we fill this hole with all our kitchen waste and some rabbit poop from our pet bunny. The point here is to make a moisture reservoir that sucks up any moisture and holds it for the Sweet Peas to use. It’s also an amazing way to teach kids about compost, bugs, decomposition and the circle of life. (Yes i went all Lion King on you)
The kitchen waste and poop will also break down over time to provide plenty of food as well as moisture for the plants to grow big and tall.
We’re in Scotland, so it’s an ideal plant for us as they’re not so keen on dry hot days.
Each year, we sow lots of these annual flowers and grow them up a trellis in our allotment. Sweet peas are wonderful for attracting pollinators and the smell of them on a late summer night is just heaven. We also have a prize for who can grow the best one.
We Sow Our Seeds Indoors.
We use toilet roll tubes, filled with soil, to grow our seeds in. I soak the seed in warm water over night, before I let the kids plant them, usually in early February.
You can sow Sweet Peas in October and overwinter them in the cold frame, but I don’t seem to have much luck with this method. So we stick to February.
Soak the pea like seeds overnight in a shallow dish of water. Some say this step isn’t necessary but we do it the way my dad always did it. Each to their own.
Lay the loo rolls on end in a seed tray. Fill each loo roll with soil and gently firm it down making sure there are no air gaps.
In each tube, Place 1 swollen seed in the centre of the compost and push down around 2 cm (or to the first knuckle on your index finger)
Cover the seeds over with a little extra soil and label the tray. Keep the tray on a window sill or somewhere cool. Sweet peas don’t need extra warmth to sprout shoots. They really are tough as old boots.
After a week to 10 days, your shoots will grow. Continue to water your plants as they shoot towards the light.
I try to sow the seeds on a Monday so that by the time these kids come again, there is something to see. Once they get a little bigger and has 3 to 4 pairs of leaves, We need to pinch out the growing tip. Just nip it off with your fingers or a little pair of scissors. This helps the plants bush out more. Bushier plants produce more side shoots.
MORE SIDE SHOOTS = MORE FLOWERS
My daughter, CC gives them a hair cut with a little pair of scissors.
In early May, we will start to ‘harden off’ the Sweet peas -this just mean that we need to get the plants used to being outside before I can put them out in the wind and cold rain. To do this the kids collect a tray of seedlings when they arrive and just put the tray out side in a sheltered spot.
They bring them back in after a little while each day, increasing the time they spend outdoors until they eventually spend a whole day and night on their own.
YEAH your seeds are growing up!
Sweet peas need some sort of support to wind their way up. We have a large wire trellis for them scramble up at our allotment, but at home, we use 12 bamboo canes in a wigwam shape to add height to our flower beds. We just plant one seed at the bottom of each cane and the plant finds it’s own way.
If you have less space, you can plant them in a pot with some canes to climb. It’s also possible to buy smaller varieties now, they are quite happy in a pot as long as you water them well. We sometimes put any left-over sweet peas in pots to climb up over our rose and our patio apple tree.
Once the flowers start to appear..
Enjoy the amazing honey smell but, when the blooms start to fade, remove ALL the finished flower heads as they go over to encourage more flowers. Get the kids back out with their scissors. If you let the seed pods develop, the plant thinks it has achieved it’s goal of producing seed and won’t put out any more flowers. (SAD FACE)
So enjoy your wonderful Sweet Pea flowers, We make it a competition each year to see who can get the most flowers or who has the tallest plants etc.
It’s a bit of fun that keeps the kids interested.