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Charming sweet peas begin with fall planting

Sweet peas bloom in spring but can be planted now. Try soaking the seeds overnight beforehand.
Sweet peas bloom in spring but can be planted now. Try soaking the seeds overnight beforehand. Bigstock

This may be the first weekend of fall, but think about spring. What flowers do you want to see blooming in March and April? If you love fragrance, try sweet peas.

Early fall is the perfect time to plant sweet peas. They love a sunny spot but need vertical support for their fast-growing vines. For best results, plant in well-cultivated soil, rich with composted manure.

For maximum sweet pea success, try these tips from Enchanting Sweet Peas (www.enchantingsweetpeas.com) of Sebastopol:

▪  Sweet peas can be a bit fickle to germinate. Use clean, fresh seed. Soak seeds overnight in room-temperature water before planting. To hasten germination, any seed not swollen after soaking may be “chipped.” Use a razor blade to chip, or break through, the pea’s skin to give the sprout a little room to break out of its hard seed coat.

▪  Once the seeds sprout, feed the tender green shoots by spraying them with diluted fertilizer. Foliar feeding of plants with a weak manure tea will make the leaves distasteful to aphids. It also stimulates plant growth and keeps them a healthy green. In particular, guard against aphids, as they may transmit disease to sweet pea plants.

▪  Now also is the right time to plant seeds for many other spring flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturium, nigella, poppy and portulaca.

▪  Put tulips, hyacinth and other spring bulbs in the refrigerator for six weeks of chill time. But keep apples out of the fridge during this process; they can cause the bulbs to rot.

▪  Set out cool-weather bedding plants including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

▪  In the vegetable garden, plant bok choy, mustard, spinach, radishes and peas directly from seed. Plant garlic and onion sets.

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