Last week I started sowing my sweet pea seeds indoors. Sadly, not an owner of a swanky greenhouse (and jealous of anyone who is!). I have however invested in a couple of heated propagators to speed up the process.
Et voila! A week later and all germinating beautifully. A sight which fills my heart with joy. Great seed germination rate from Chiltern Seeds and I use New Horizon multi purpose compost, just sieving the top inch or so to make it a little finer for seed sowing. Once germinated, I’ll move the seedlings outdoors into my mini green house/large cold frame, so that the seedlings don’t get too leggy and then I’ll harden them (putting pots outside or opening the coldframe lid during the day, then returning at night) about 10 days before planting out, probably in April.
No room for a propagator? Not a problem. A plastic bag with an elastic band to retain the moisture will do equally well and will just take a little longer for seeds to appear.
Sweet peas can be sown in autumn for earlier flowering the following summer and then overwintered in a cold frame until hardened off in spring. When I was picking some self-sown rocket at my allotment in January, I noticed quite a number of self-sown sweet peas nestling amongst the crop. I thought they would be wiped out during the subsequent frosts and snow, but amazingly they’re still going strong and will probably be the earliest flowering sweet peas that I’ve ever ‘grown’! Still plenty of time to sow sweet peas and great to sow a couple of batches weeks apart, so that you can have delicious sweet peas scenting your gardening for a longer period over summer.
This year, I’ve decided to have a go at growing Chilli peppers (Capiscum annuum). These seeds do need a bit of extra heat to get them started (it says 27 degrees C on the packet), so I popped them in my small overly hot propagator (has no controls, so either on and very hot or off). Again, delighted with the germination rate of the seeds that I bought from Sea Spring Seeds. I’m trying 2 different varieties this year. ‘NuMex Twilight’ for a sunny windowsill or greenhouse and also ‘Super Chile’ which I’m going to try to grow outdoors. Outdoor growing isn’t always very successful as the plants need a lot of heat to fully ripen, but Super Chile is a very fast grower, so if we have a hot summer, might just manage to get some red hot chillis later in the year.
Outside in my mini lean-to greenhouse I rather over enthusiastically sowed leek seeds in January. Think I was itching to get going as the weather was so mild (before it got very cold again) and was also inspired by a post from Jekkas Herb Farm about getting under way sowing seeds so that plants would be ready in time for Chelsea. Sowed mid January, then nothing happened until about 10 days ago, 5 weeks after sowing. You can’t fool nature (without extra heating that is!).
Also outside in the mini greenhouse are some Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ seedlings. It’s amazing to see pink, red and yellow stems even at this tiny stage.
As the weather warms up, I’ve got heaps more seeds to sow (rather overdid the ordering this year again, although I promised myself that I wouldn’t). Looking forward to sowing annuals, such as Nigella above, straight into the ground , but am waiting until the 20th March, following wise advice from Benjamin at Higgledy Garden. He says he doesn’t sow hardy annuals before the Vernal Equinox when hours of daylight are equal to hours of darkness and finds sowings seem to be more successful after this date. Can’t wait.