Sweet Peas: what to do now

Its sweet pea time of year again and the scent is filling my house, the office, the gardens, the tearoom… Its a hard life. For those of you that are searching for some answers to your sweet pea questions, hopefully this may help:

If you have Sweet Peas looking a bit weedy remember that they love a deep root run and are quite greedy feeders. ‘Well, thanks for that’ you say ‘but its a bit late now, they are in my poor soil and will have to get on with it.’ In which case, you can use a foliar feed when watering and you will find they reward you by picking up speed.

L. odoratus ‘Mars’

Support your plants on drums of sheep netting or against poles. Remember though that the tendrils need something thin to wrap themselves around and will need tying in initially. They cannot grip onto bamboo canes so add some pea netting over your structure.
Keep picking the flowers as they appear, not too difficult a task. Once a sweet pea has set seed, a message goes to the whole plant to say its job is done and it will stop flowering.
If you haven’t sown any sweet peas this year and find some small plants in pots at a garden centre, it is not too late. You will have to wait until September for the flowers but it will be worth it.

Lathyrus grandiflora mixture

Cutting and arranging: Make sure you use a pair of scissors rather than a knife which tends to pull on the plant and damage it. You can’t get a duff posy of sweet peas and I think they look best on their own. For the short stemmed types use a little narrow necked container like a vintage medicine bottle. For big long stems you can use a flared vase.

If your sweet peas are looking a bit ropey this year, feed them, keep deadheading and give them time, it has been a particularly difficult start to the season, with dry weather and late frosts.If you have any questions post them here and we will do our best to answer them.

If Sweet pea growing has evaded you for this year; come and see ours.

Sweet Pea Week at Easton Walled Gardens runs every year in early july.

Salad in seconds.

If you have done nothing about salad growing this year, feel you have left it too late or just would like a bit of lettuce for your sandwiches, this works brilliantly…
You will need:
A packet of mixed salad leaves seeds
An old fish box or similar plastic box (with holes punched in the base if necessary to let water out) or a window box.
Peat free general potting compost

Fill box with compost, water compost, sprinkle lettuce seeds thinly in rows, pat down with your hand to ensure seeds are just covered, keep watered and wait. In a month it should look like this:



Box of salad grown by Nick who manages
our immaculate vegetable garden.



Put it outside your door where you can pick a few leaves for your sandwiches. It’s that easy!

Tomatoes

tomatoes harvested at Easton Walled Gardens

We grow a fair number of tomatoes at Easton and have been growing sweet cherry and big fat cheeked beefsteak varieties for some time. We use them in the tearoom fresh and roast the glut for using in soups overwinter.

Here are a few of our favourites:

Tomato ‘Cuor di Bue’:

Also called Tomato ‘Bull’s Heart’ – we grew this last year under Paolo’s instruction (he runs Seeds of Italy) We weren’t excited by the first fruits but as they ripened they were spectacular! Big beefsteak type tomatoes, virtually seedless, make the perfect salad tomato or for passata. Needless to say we are growing it again this year.

Tomato ‘Black Cherry’:

A regular with us. Really long trusses of smallish dark pink/black tomatoes, easy to eat whole or halve for salads or cooking. We grow it undercover with Cuor di Bue.

Tomato ‘Principe Borghese’:

This fantastic tomato is a vine tomato suitable for outdoor growing. It’s egg shaped fruits are good with salads and then, at the end of the season can be dried. Lucy, our florist used them like this last year.Lucy cut the toms in half, laid them out flat on baking tray sprinkled with salt and pepper and olive oil. She put in the bottom oven of an Aga or plate warmer overnight until semi-dried then put into air tight jars with olive oil.Summer in a jar!

Tomato baby plum ‘Red Cherry’:

This is new to us this year. The description from Seeds of Italy describes it thus ‘produces sweet long oblong fruits, is ideal for containers and can be grown outdoors.’

Tomato ‘Cumulus F1’:

An early ripening variety with typical tomato shape fruits that has good resistance to disease. Can be grown in or outside.

Tomato ‘Gardeners Delight’:

Well named, this is a cherry tomato with trusses of sweet tasting tomatoes on a compact bush that can be grown inside or out.For us, this grows better outside than in and produces a heavy crop of medium sized fruits with very little side shoot removal required. Easy if your whole world doesn’t revolve around growing perfect tomatoes.

tomato plants for sale at Easton Walled Gardens
We have some of these for sale in the shop as young plants or seeds at the time of writing. The fruiting plants can be seen in the greenhouse or cottage garden with chillies and spaghetti squash from May onwards.