Sweet Peas: The Death of Autumn

It has not been a good year for sweet peas. Here on Pig Row we have sown for 2013 HarlequinOpal,Venetian and Amethyst (all from Sarah Raven), Miss Willmott (from Dobies of Devon), Cupani (also from Dobies) and Seeds of Italy Sweet Peas Pisello Odoroso. Today we took stock of our dwindling supply and had to make an awful choice.

Sweet pea sown in spring come through to the final position.


All the autumn sown sweet peas we started in October last year ended up on the compost heap. That meant all the Sarah Raven seeds, Seeds of Italy and Dobies went. It came down to one thing and one thing only, a poor spring. Even though we potted on the sweet peas from last year, they just couldn't cope with the fluctuations in temperature even under cover. Most of them had turned yellow, crisped up and died. When taking them out of the pots it became apparent why, even though potted on three weeks ago, they were root bound. It has come down to bad weather and rather than dwell on a negative we want to comment on how well the spring sown seeds from Sarah Raven, Dobies and Seeds of Italy have grown. They have all made sturdy little plants that we put in place today.

Sweet pea row. Spring or autumn, when to sow.

Of course, we lost the variety Miss Willmott (from Dobies) which is the only sweet pea that failed to germinate in both the autumn and spring sowings. This means the comparisons we wanted to make between autumn and spring sowings can not be done by us at this end but it doesn't mean that you can't tell us how you go on, please do. There is nothing more upsetting than having to make that decision of whether a plant goes into the garden or the compost heap but sick plants never really get away. 

On the plus side, we still have over 20 feet of sweet peas as you can see from the photos which should give us hundreds of blooms throughout summer. However, it does highlight for us that with the changing climate, we cannot trust autumn sown seeds at Pig Row to get through. Spring sown seeds have more scope for us, as we can sow when there are signs of spring. Just a real shame that spring never sprung as well as it did last year. Let's hope for a great summer.

Don't forget, if you're growing sweet peas this year, get out there with a camera and email us which varieties you are growing and what you think of them to contact@lifeonpigrow.co.uk and we'll share them during 2013.

You can follow the story of Pig Row's sweet peas below:

We are so happy that so many of you are emailing us your story of what you are sowing and your hopes for those seedlings. Please keep sending them in.

We ask that if you wish to blog for us about seed sowing that you let our readers know where you bought them and what varieties they are, unless you have saved your seed and no longer have that information. Thanks.

Opinions expressed here are personal. The seed packets from Sarah Raven and Seeds of Italy were received for free to review. Seeds from Dobies were purchased in 2012.