Gardening Jobs in January

Sweet Peas

Top dressing seedlings

Prick over the top of the compost of plants sown in pots in October. Use a piece of stick or an old kitchen fork to aerate the compost. A light dressing of fresh compost acts as a tonic for the plants.

Sowing seeds under glass

Seeds can be sown in slight heat, about 4°C (40°F), following the method outlined for autumn sowing. Many sweet pea growers consider sowing this month preferable to sowing in the autumn and it is certainly more suitable for the compact types.

Dressing with lime or sulphur

The most suitable pH for sweet peas is around 6.5, which is very slightly acid. If the pH of your soil is below this, apply lime to increase alkalinity; if above, add sulphur to acidify the soil.

Know your sweet peas

For exhibition or cut flowers with long, straight stems, choose a Spencer type, and grow the flowers up canes, training them using the cordon system. For ordinary garden display, sweet peas grow well up wigwams or other supports. You may find Multiflora varieties particularly pleasing grown like this for general garden decoration. There are various dwarf mixtures – some as low as 30 cm (1 ft) – which are suitable as an edging for a bed. Intermediate varieties, that grow to about 90 cm (3 ft), are useful for a patio or confined space. The stems of these mixtures are not long so they are less useful for cutting.