Wartime Garden 2013
The Pig Row Wartime Garden is celebrating the roots of grow your own. We are turning back the clock to 1943 and adopting the growing plans of the Ministry of Agriculture. We will be growing some of our own favourite varieties beside heritage ones. There will be Fat Lazy Blondes Lettuces in our beds nestled beside some American Spinach and Egyptian Turnip Beetroots. We will be following the advice from the Ministry of Agriculture from 1943 and will not be using any chemicals like our wartime forebears. Herbicides and pesticides were not available during the Second World War to the average domestic grower and this could have been the origin of the organic gardener. The only difference we will be doing is that we will be growing on smaller plots to reflect the spaces that many Saddleworth people live with everyday in their gardens. This too will reflect the small gardens created in many new home constructions. 

What we want to show is that you can turn your garden over from grass to produce, just as we did during the war and as many Englishman, Americans and Europeans are doing today during the economic downturn. We want to show that growing your own can feed you throughout the year as the Ministry of Agriculture showed us all in the Second World War. We will be sharing our ups and downs, recreating the recipes of the period and creating contemporary recipes for all the family. We will be feeding a family of three and the occasional guest. Will our experiment make us healthier as the whole nation was at the end of World War Two? 

Bee Bank 2013 (Phase 1)
We will be sowing new plants for our bee bank that will spread alongside our orchard. This will include nectar rich hedgerows, perennials and annuals. Join us as we tackle couch grass, old collapsed stone walls as we start to create a natural habitat for bees, butterflies and moths.

Sweet Pea Trial 2012/13

Pig Row and a number of gardeners across the UK (and maybe further abroad) are trialing their own gardener centre bought, catalogue purchased, home saved sweet peas. You can get involved in this from autumn/fall 2012. All you need to do is to sow your normal variety of sweet pea or buy a packet for the trial. Unfortunately at Pig Row we do not have the funds to supply you all with sweet pea seeds . We want this trial to be about your selection, your choice rather than a big sponsor. This is not a corporate promotion, it is about the choices real gardeners make each day, each season, each year. Pig Row want to look at hardiness and growth patterns of sweet peas sown in autumn and spring. We want to compare gardens in various climatic zones. These zones can be regional or even from your garden to your neighbour's garden. More importantly we want you to share the story behind the variety you have chosen. This trial is as much about you as a gardener as it is about sweet peas.

We all want to enjoy this, to get to know fellow gardeners so we have kept subscribing to the trial simple*:


1) Email us at and tell us where you are. Just county and town only, no need for an address. If you wish you can include a photo of your garden now or last summer.
2) Tell us what variety of sweet pea you plan to grow.
3) If you twitter you can find us at @lifeonpigrow and we can stay in contact that way. Just contact us with the #sweetpeabuddy hashtag and we will add you as a friend.

You will have to do two sowings of your sweet pea variety. If you can't, due to lack of shelter or coldframe etc. Then please just sow your variety in spring (but do let us know via email at


1) Sow your sweet peas from September 2012 to January 2013 under glass. Place two seeds in a 9cm pot (roughly 4 inch pot if you have never gone metric, like us). You can also use roottrainers. Please email us to let us know if you have chosen to use rootrainers but if you don't know what they are, don't worry and just use pots. Water the surface of your pots and push each seed down by one inch.
2) Cover the pots with a sheet of old newspaper to exclude light. It will also keep the soil and seeds warm, speeding up germination.
3) If you are sowing in a greenhouse you may have to take extra measures to stop mice from eating the seed. They love sweet pea seed. You can do two things, you can resort to a trap (but many gardeners may find this rather harsh) or you can use an old piece of chicken wire placed over the pots, weighed down to stop them getting to the seed.
4) After a week check for germination. Once the seedlings appear it is important to keep them cool, around 5c. This stops the foliage from romping away and allows the roots get down into the soil. A cold greenhouse, coldframe or north facing porch/windowsill without heating is ideal for this. You could also leave them in a potting shed by the windowsill.
5) When the sweetpeas are 3-5 inches high (you want around 3 sets of leaves on them), pinch out the growing shoot between finger and thumb. This should create small plants around 2 inches high (leaving one set of leaves or at a push, two). This promotes side shoot growth.
6) Keep checking your plants every 3 weeks, water them and pinch out any growth that causes the plants to be straggly.
7) Depending on location, you can plant out your sweet peas after threat of frost has passed. This can be as early as March in the south and as late as May in the north.
8) Plant your sweet peas around a wigwam, constructed from anything you wish, bamboo or hazel or even a garden obelisk. Plant them around 2 inches away from the wigwam support. Then surround them with slug protection, your choice as you know your garden.
9) As the sweet peas grow, keep tying them in. This stops them from being snapped in winds or bowed down by foliage and rain. Tying them in means you will have stronger plants come summer.
10) When they flower, keep picking, do not stop! Use a pair of scissors to do this and snip off any seed pods (they look like small pea pods). When cutting the sweet peas, make sure you snip them off at the base of the stem. This will promote more growth and minimise rot and fungal disease.
11) At the end of the season, around August/September, allow the sweet peas to set seed and then collect before the first frosts for 2014!

SOWING (Later)

1) Sow in spring 2013. Follow the sowing guide above but plant out later around May after hardening off.


1) Email us your photos, stories and thoughts on your sweet pea variety from May/June 2013 onwards. Tell us what problems you've had, what successes and surprises you find whilst growing. Bring us up to date throughout the summer by emailing us on the first of each month at 
2) Each month, throughout the summer, we will post up your photos and stories on our blog. You can even guest blog for us if you wish but that is not necessary if all you want to do is share photos and thoughts.**
3) Your welcome to blog about it on your blog (we just kindly ask that you link to blogs by other gardeners involved in the #sweetpeabuddy trial and to the Pig Row blog). You can twitter about it but we ask that you use the hashtag #sweetpeabuddy so we can all track updates. Share these links with us, we're happy to share them too.
4) Let us know if you rate the sweet pea you're growing. Recommend it if it works for you. If it fails, let us know why.
5) Tell us what you think of the scent, the scent is important and how well it has grown compared to your spring sowing. Tell us the story behind your sweet pea, why did you choose it? 
6) Finally, have fun.

*Remember, this is in no way a scientific test, it is more about how we sow, when we sow and the weather in 2012/13. 

** By agreeing to participate in the #sweetpeabuddy trial you agree to Pig Row publishing your photos and edited versions of your emails to Pig Row and tweets relating to the #sweetpeabuddy trial on their blog.