Sweet peas are some of those easy to grow, old-fashioned flowers, that can fill in the seasonal space between tulips and warm weather annuals. Just like peas, you may get discouraged in trying to grow them, or miss them all together, if you don’t plant them in late winter or very early spring in southwest Idaho. They prefer the cooler temperatures and higher moisture of the spring.
Ideally, I would have planted mine in mid March. My flower bed arrangements are not such that I can keep track of semi-random, un-row like plantings of seeds over the winter. I usually forget where they are during the frozen time warp. Wind whips around debris to redesign the landscape next to fences and shrubs, which means most flower beds. If I ever invest in, or get some more weather resistant markers (yes, for those of you in my family reading, this is a gift hint…), I might try planting sweet peas in late fall/early winter, like I did for garden shell peas this year (one of those varieties of shell pea is sprouting all down its row, by the way!)
Until then, one thing that can help the sweet peas sprout more uniformly and quickly, is to soak them for a few hours just prior to planting. I did this for about 10 hours, at which time I noticed the outer brown cracking open. So, at 7 PM, I was out digging some trenches and planting along a fence that gets some shade during the day.
I find it easiest to dig a few trenches along the desired fence or trellis, rather than poke each individual seed into the dirt. I thought the second method would be harder to do and keep track of overall. If the soil is friable enough for the plant to grow, it is probably reasonable to do be digging with a hand trowel. I’m not one for extensive flower bed preparation (or I’d never get anything on my acre planted…), but if you can’t drag a trowel through without breaking your wrist, you might need to work something into the soil to loosen it up first.
I was trying to mix varieties, and thus color, when I planted, which made the process a little less predictable. I supposed I could have taken one seed at a time out of each container, but I didn’t. I took a few from one and spaced them in the trench. They promptly disappeared from sight after rolling slightly in the dirt, so I had to guess on the “proper” placement of the other seeds. No problem for me avoiding that soldierly look among the flowers.
If it doesn’t rain in the next few hours, I will go out and water them. The dirt was dry. It will take some hauling of the watering pot, because my irrigation water isn’t turned on yet. But it should be worth it. The fragrance of a sweet pea is something that lingers in the memory.