Sweet pea planting...

mbravebird(VA zone 7)March 7, 2006

The days are getting warmer, and we got a tractor! I will be preparing beds and planting sweet peas soon. It's sort of surreal to actually *begin* the process of planting after so much planning. Somehow even the seed-starting felt different than this. I'm going out to our property today with a friend to finish marking the beds. I made some last-minute changes, making my aisles between beds 3 feet rather than 2 feet (sound good to you guys?)

But I started this post meaning to ask you all how you support your sweet peas in a way that is amenable to larger-scale harvesting. Do you run netting vertically between metal posts? That's my first thought, just from my gardening experience, but I wonder if there are other options I haven't thought of (that's a safe bet). What do you all do?



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Hi, April I also have been building my beds for this season. I planted my sweet peas last week, a little late I thought. Last year I used wide grid wire to support them and OY what a pain!! It was so unwieldy and springy that it kept springing back and smacking me in the ... well, you can imagine! So this year I am using Hortnova netting attached to T posts for both sweet peas and for horizontal support for the tall beauties, larkspur and snaps and the like. Hope this helps. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 9:47PM
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mbravebird(VA zone 7)

Thanks misskitty! So are you using the hortonova vertically for the sweet peas, then? And it seems like you would only be able to get two rows to a bed, right?

Yes, my peas will be late too, although they will be going in started from 128 cell trays. I have no idea how much that will help, though. This first year, with us not living on the land yet and not having bed prep materials, etc, I am trying to be gentle with myself. Maybe we'll have a longer, cooler spring and they'll be OK... we'll see.

Good luck to you too!!


    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 5:44PM
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April, yes using the Hortonova vertically, but I made my pea beds skinny, as in 18 inches to make harvesting easier. I found that having two rows per bed made it difficult to harvest inbetween without breaking stems. Anywho, experiment and see how it works for you, let me know please. Are you planning to go to market with your peas? Happy growing. Kat

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 8:52PM
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Don't forget to pinch your sweet peas. Since they can grow 8-10 feet tall, are you using 10' T-post? I'm actually just curious as we haven't used the T-posts. Our posts are 10' in the field, and 12' in the hightunnel. We have Hortonova netting on both sides of the posts; therefore, we have two rows per bed. Kat, Did you tie the sweet peas to the support every foot or so?

I'm also curious which varieties everyone is growing. We're growing Cuthbertson Floribunda in the hightunnels. Its supposed to be partway between a multiflora gigantea (winter type) and summer types. It has been recommended for greenhouse production by another specialty cutflower grower.

FWIW Our sweet peas do go to the farmers markets. We love the sweet peas; and, the customers love the sweet peas.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 12:15PM
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bfff_tx(z8b TX)

My 50 cell tray transplants of "Mammoth" (this year)have been in the ground since first week of Jan and that was late for Tx, should have been late Nov. I'm just starting to get blooms now and they're exceptionally fragrant. I run 1 or 2 rows of Hortnova on 10' t-posts running East West and the SP's are planted on the south side. I also use some of that 3/4" square netting to give them good strong support down low. My SP's are field grown so have to be on the look out for bugs. Good luck ladies!
Cheers Kim
Billabong Fresh Flower Farm

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 11:58PM
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mbravebird(VA zone 7)

So, Trish and Kim, you run hortonova on BOTH sides of your posts, either T or wooden, it sounds like. I hadn't thought of that, but it makes sense. I think I'm going to try the T-posts.

Kat, I am going to market with these peas, although it all seems surreal still, as it's our first year. I sort of can't wait, and also feel nervous. Hopefully that will be a good combo for me.

Trish, I looked into the "Cupani's Original" that you recommended to me on a previous post, and then looked at others until I found myself, at seeding time, looking down at six different varieties of sweet pea seeds, and laughing to myself as I only used a fraction of each kind. I guess I'll have seeds for MANY coming years, unless of course I order new varieties, lol. So this year I'll be growing Cupani's Original, Winter Elegance, and Knee-Hi mix in addition to the Painted Lady, Old Spice, and Royal mix I had originally ordered.

And pinching -- thanks for mentioning that, Trish. I had no idea. Which leads me to... how do I find out which flower types need pinching? And how far back/when do you pinch, etc. Only a few growing instructions that I have talk about it. I'm using Armitage and Johnny's as my main instructions.

Kim, why do they need stronger support down low?


    Bookmark   March 12, 2006 at 12:32PM
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Trish, I did not tie the plants last year and I realize after reading your suggestion about the support being on both sides of the T-post that that is why I had a hard time with the stems in between. Very good. This year I am trying the 'cordon' system as per Armitage etal, page 366 in the revised edition of Specialty Cut Flowers. I will probably sacrifice quantity of blooms by doing this but I want to see what the result is with the 'significantly larger and showier flowers' mmmmmmm!!! I am doing this only with Old Spice. I absolutely love the fragrance of these and so I decided to try to run the gammut (sp) and get great flowers and the delicious scent. I shall fill you in at the end.

April, this is my first year at my market too, I sold directly from my farm last year. Take a deep breath and jump on in. I found that these market people are all like minded and willing to help. Besides, they all started out the same way. Good luck. Kat

    Bookmark   March 12, 2006 at 9:06PM
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Is there such a thing as too many sweet peas? I din't think so. Several years ago I watched a segment on one of the garden shows. They featured a grower who grew only sweet peas. Rows and rows of beautiful sweet peas. She used
4 x 4 wood fence posts. The posts weren't high enough. So, she nailed to the posts 1 x 4s that were 10' long. She used chicken wire on both sides of the posts. Anyway, it was beautiful and obviously made a great impression on me. She also tied her sweet peas. She spent a great deal of time doing this each day. We try; but, we can't totally commit our time to the sweet peas.

We also use 4 x 4 wood fence posts with the 1 x4s, 10' long nailed to the posts. The only difference is that we use Hortanova netting on boh sides of the posts.

If you are using the t-posts, I assume you put t-posts about every 8 feet? But, how are you going to put Hortanova netting on each side of the post? Two posts back to back?

April, I looked at your list, and the only other flower I noticed that needed pinching was zinnia. It's not that crucial. Sometimes we don't pinch them, and just cut the center that should have been pinched as our first cutting. You can post and ask about that when it gets close to harvesting your zinnias. Then, it will probably make more sense.

Right now I feel like I am just laller, laller, lallering. Storms here last night and today. And, wind. High powered winds. I've been going full steam since 3 am. The relay switch went out on the furnace in the seedling greenhouse. Not a big deal last night. It was 60 degrees today; but, tomorrow it is going to be 30. The new part will be installed in two days. Can we say supplemental heat? Yes. I think so. So much to do. So little time. I have no idea how March arrived so quickly. How did that happen? I do love working in the greenhouses. I also love more than a few hours sleep.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 6:35PM
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Hi! I planted some sweet pea seeds indoors and am planning on hardening off and planting outside this year. It's only the second year I've planted them but I do like them very much. I don't really follow what hortonova is but I just let mine grow on an iron trellis.

I would love to see some photos of your work...if you ever feel like posting them. It sounds like you have beautiful set ups.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 5:56PM
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