Tag Archives: growing flowers

Summer favourites – sweet peas

sweet-pea-garden

I have to admit that I’ve never picked sweet peas for the house before and I’ve only been growing them for a couple of years. I used to think the sweet candy coloured varieties that were popular years ago were sickly and a little kitsch but after buying a willow planter full of them two years back, I’ve changed my mind! So much so, I even started sowing the seeds for this summer back in November.

sweet-pea-close-up

My experiments with sweet peas:

A) November: Sowed a batch indoors, they germinated quickly and survived the whole winter on a windowsill. In the new year they went soft and leggy. Potted them on in February and moved them to the cold greenhouse, heating it at night. Mixed them into the willow planter with my next batch (experiment ‘B’ below) and I’m not entirely sure what happened to them?!

B) November: Sowed a batch straight into my willow planter inside the (very) cold greenhouse. Waited… At the end of January they started to come through, it took until March for them to look established but they were far tougher than the floppy things that had been inside the house. They flourished and flowered in May and they continued to flower until July when we went on holiday and they didn’t get watered. Being in a planter, with room for only shallow roots, the basket quickly dried out in the heatwave and expired.

C) April: Sowed tons of sweet peas in pots in the greenhouse. A very slow start and I vowed never to sow them again as they also grew leggy and soft. Planted them out not expecting too much….. boom! They grew and grew and are still growing. They’re very healthy plants and gorgeous colours.

Conclusion: I’ll sow again in November but I wont bother bringing them on early in the house. I’ll just leave them to their own devices in the cold greenhouse (B) because that did produce a very healthy crop in spring. I’ll also sow again in April (C),  the more the merrier in my opinion and I’ll get them outside a lot quicker to avoid them going soft and leggy, even though they recovered well once I’d planted them out. I’ll avoid the planter next year too because sweet peas do put down long roots if allowed and will spread and grow a lot bigger if they are planted into the ground.

collecting-sweet-peas

I do believe the continued success of the sweet peas has been my cutting. I’ve been cutting all the flowers off and by about 4 days later they are back and ready to cut again.

cut-sweet-peas

They attract a lot of greenflies, so I give my picked bunches a good shake. This seems to knock most of them off quite easily.

growing-sweet-peas

cutting-sweet-peas

I just love having freshly cut sweet peas in the house and I also just love cutting bunches. It’s such a nice, quiet and relaxing job to do in the garden and walking home with my bag full of flowers or a bunch in my hand feels wonderful!

sweet-pea-vase

sweet-peas

Do you grow sweet peas? Do you enjoy the ‘cut and comeback’ flowers they produce? When do you sow or plant yours out?

How do your products grow?

growing_food_3
During my trip to Amsterdam last year I visited the Botanical Gardens and took some photos of a display in their main greenhouse. It was probably created for children and I didn’t think too much about it at the time, other than how cool the plants looked in the colourful packaging. Now though, I’m really beginning to think more and more about the food I eat and I feel it’s not what I eat that’s important, it’s about where my food comes from.

growing_carrots
During the summer (and for as long as I can make my growing season last) I love the fact that I’m eating my own veg. However, I don’t think I’ve fully understood why I love it so much, until now.

Is it the satisfaction I feel from the actual growing act itself, is it the superior flavour, is it the money saving, is it the convenience of having food to hand and not needing to go to the shop, is it the environmental benefits such as providing a haven for bees and other wildlife, or is it all of these things?

It’s definitely all of these things but the biggest thing for me right now is that I know the origin of that food.

growing_food_2
I can’t grow everything I eat though and I’m becoming more and more into the idea of changing my buying habits and choosing food and products that I can trace back to a source that I feel happy about. This will mean cutting down on trips to the supermarket in favour of local producers. It will also affect where I choose to eat out, so cafés and restaurants will have to be carefully selected. This will be a big shift for me as eating out is one of my favourite pastimes and I don’t have a local high street with small retailers.

I’m excited about changing my buying habits but this is going to be a massive challenge.

growing_food
Don’t get me wrong, I do try to consciously buy good food from local sellers and markets already but I wouldn’t say that accounts for even 30% of my weekly shopping in the months that I don’t have a big harvest of my own. So, I’m busy googling local farm shops and researching like mad in the hope that I’ll be able to change and support the people who grow food for the same reasons that I do. I’m also working out how I can have a lot more crops available all year round.

Barter_Board

This weekend whilst walking in North Yorkshire I noticed a pub in Malham offering ‘money off vouchers’ in exchange for any surplus home grown produce. I don’t think there’s a shortage of veg and flowers in this area so I can only assume that being able to tell customers that their products have been locally sourced is a big plus point.

Do you choose to buy food from local producers because you want to know where it originates from? Do you ‘grow your own’ for any of these reasons?

 

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