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October 2, 2007 > Pat Kite's Garden

Pat Kite's Garden

Sweet Peas

I have never succeeded in growing sweet peas from seed. That doesn't mean that I don't know how to do it. I do. I have read several books of instructions. Here are the instructions.

There are bush-type sweet peas and vining-type sweet peas. For the latter, which climb by short tendrils, put in some type of trellis for them to hang onto before you poke in the seeds. Keep the trellis several inches, at least, away from a wall or fence. Sweet peas need air circulation.

Early Fall, which is now, is a good time to start seeds for early spring bloom.
Soak seeds in warm water for a few hours. Some say 2 hours; some say 12 to 48 hours.
If you don't want to soak seeds, you can make a notch in the hard seed covering.
Or you can cut off a small piece of the seed coat on the side opposite the growing point.
Or you can rub the seed with sandpaper. [Depends which book you research] then soak for an hour. As a note: sweet pea seeds are noted as poisonous in one catalogue.

Find a mostly sunny spot but not baking-hot site. Place seeds in splendid soil about 1-inch deep. If you don't have delightful soil, i.e. Tri-City clay:

Dig a hole about 12-inches deep
Back fill with a mixture of peat moss/compost and regular soil in a 1:2 ratio
Stir in some store-bought fertilizer

Plant seeds in splendid soil about 1-inch deep. Cover. Seeds need darkness to germinate. Seeds should be about 6-inches apart. When seedlings emerge, protect from snails, slugs and wind. Water well and water often. Thin to about 18-inches apart. Fertilize. Cut flowers for your home vase.

If Tri-City Voice readers follow these instructions, and actually get sweet peas galore,Please remember me. I do so love the sweet aroma of these pretty flowers. If you too like fragrance, make certain to plant a variety that has it. Some do, some don't. Places where I have found fragrant sweet pea seeds include Seed Savers Exchange [wonderful old time selection] at, Territorial Seed Company at, Select Seeds at, and Thompson & Morgan at

A sweet pea legend. Long ago, after the Garden of Eden came to ruin, plants began seeking new homes. Some traveled alone, some in groups. Two cousins, who were vines, voyaged together. One was a happy vine loved for its beauty and sweetness. The other was plain, wearing greenish-white clothes. The plain vine was loved because it gave people food wherever the duo traveled. Along their long way, they always left some of their family behind. People called them "the P's." After a while people got the cousins mixed up. They wanted first names for them, so the beautiful one became "Sweet Pea" and the generous one "Garden Pea."

I like that story a lot. Have a lovely autumn. Tend your houseplants. Read seed catalogues. They are so hopeful.

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