Author: Diana Barnes, Growing Vegetable Down Under
Known for its immense fragrance and stunning blooms, but this kind of pea is one you don't want to find on your plate.
Sweet peas add a glorious burst of colour to your garden in late winter and spring. They are the perfect way to cover those bare trellises while your spring vegetables are getting established. But their seeds are poisonous when ingested in large amounts so stick to planting these beauties.
When to plant
If you are living in a cool climate (like me) sweet peas are best sowed at the end of autumn. This gives them a chance to grow before the cooler days arrive. Then at the end of winter and early spring, they take off and reward you with a glorious display of beautiful and fragrant flowers.
If you live in warmer areas of Australia, then plant at the end of winter or early spring. They can be started indoors and transplanted, but remember to always harden off your plants before planting out.
Where to plant
Remember flowers and fruits need full sun and roots and leaves can be in part shade. So plant your sweet peas in a bright and sunny place. But to keep their roots cool, remember to mulch with straw, lucerne or leaf litter.
These stunning flowers are the perfect vine to adorn your garden arbour or even grow on a trellis to mask a less attractive part of your garden. They smell as great as they look.
You'll have no trouble keeping to your garden colour palette or finding a bright colour to splash out on with the wide variety of sweet peas. You can try an attention grabbing red like Royal Crimson, or pinks and purples with the Bijou Mix or go dark and stormy with Mammoth Navy Blue and Elegance Burgundy. Little Sweetheart would add a glorious burst of colour to your vegetable garden and cover those bare trellises until the cucurbits and legumes get established.
Plant them like other legumes. Soak for 12 hours before planting. Poke your finger in the soil to your second knuckle and place one seed in each hole. Remember to provide adequate space to grow, so follow the instructions on your seed packet.
They can take two weeks to germinate so don't be disheartened if you don't see them come through immediately. They are worth the wait.
Sweet peas are thirsty and so make sure you water them every day from the start of spring. Corn are also a very thristy crop and like a similar position to sweet peas. You can try interplanting corn with sweet peas, and by the time your sweet peas die off your corn will be ready to fill the space. Start your corn at least 4 weeks after your sweet peas in spring.