Let’s Plant Some Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)and See What Happens!

Hi Lovelies,

First and foremost, let’s be clear, we’re talking ornamental sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus). NOT edible “sweet” peas,as they are sometimes called by veggie loving gardeners. These, in fact, are toxic. So, don’t eat them. Okay? K, thanx.

Sweet peas and I have a complicated relationship. I love them, but any time I think I’ve finally got them figured out, nature throws me a curve ball and the temperamental things just refuse to grow. Last year I planted sweet peas twice. The first batch was direct sown at the end of March and quickly drowned and turned brown in the low spot of my garden. The second planting was made in April, and though it grew and produced flowers, the crop wasn’t all that great because the summer heat came and wiped them out.

This year, I’m rolling the dice and I’m making a planting now. Seriously, I just finished.  I honestly have no idea if they’ll survive or what will happen. It’s supposed to be 70F tomorrow, that’s reason enough for me to try now. If you remember, I planted a batch of sweet peas out in the fall just to see what would happen. Surprisingly, they did better than I expected, even though they still all died. The fall sown sweet peas made it through temperatures in the 20s without much issue. In fact, it wasn’t until the thermometer suddenly dropped to about 10F that things bit the dust. With at least 10 days of warm weather in the forecast, I’m really in the mood to gamble. I figure, worst case scenario, I’ll just take grab my pile o’ old bed sheets and cover these little dudes up. Even if this direct sowing is a complete flop, I still have a good amount of seeds tucked away in my winter sowing jugs. Oh, winter sowing! There you are saving the day again!

There are tons of ways to go about planting sweet peas. Some people use root trainers. If you’ve never seen those, they’re kind of like weird looking take-out containers that encourage roots to grow long and strong. Anytime I’ve seen them for sale, they’ve been expensive. I can barely afford to budget the actual sweet pea seeds, so I definitely won’t be shelling out the cash for a bunch of plastic things. Since one of the keys to growing great sweet peas is allowing them to establish deep roots, some folks double dig their beds. That’s all fine and dandy, and the route I would choose, but the winter and spring here are extremely wet. Like, my basement literally flooded a few days ago. We got that much rain. So what’s a girl to do?

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First I soaked the seed over night in water. Varieties that were direct sowed as a test are ‘Mixed Streamer’, ‘Blue Shift’, ‘Wedding Blush’, ‘Black Knight’, ‘Flora Norton’, and some other kinds that I can’t remember the name of. Typical.
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This awesome behind the scenes photo. I was able to plant out a 50ft test row. I still plan on making more successions of sweet peas, just to see what works best. Who knows how much I’ll end up with. I’m determined to cram plants into every square inch of this yard.
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The first thing I do when conditions are wet and gross is to grab my bulb auger and drill. The auger allows me to dig out a deep hole that’s perfect for “training” sweet pea roots to be long and strong! Always be careful using drills and tools and whatnot. If you don’t know what you’re doing, find someone who does. For realz.
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Oh, look! It’s a hole. But seriously, this hole is easily 12 inches deep. I fill the hole with a good compost and/or whatever amendments and then plant the seeds in the awesome loose dirt. I tend to stay away from high nitrogen composts, as I want flowers, not just a bunch of leaves. At least, I think that’s how it works. Lol. If you’re worried about weeds, going back and mulching around the plants after they’re already growing is fairly easy.
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When people ask me why I don’t paint my nails. I should buy some gardening gloves.

8 thoughts on “Let’s Plant Some Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)and See What Happens!

  1. Augers are great for planting, for big holes or little holes, no matter what size hole you have to dig.

    Just for fun, here is an auger on an excavator I hired to dig holes for replanting vines in our vineyard:

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