• Emma Jane

The Sweet Pea Saga

People often think that because I know *a teeny bit* about flowers - that I also know about gardening. This is so highly inaccurate. That being said, I'm pretty good at digging and anything that requires significantly more enthusiasm that actual skill.


The following traits make me quite possibly the world's worst gardener:

1. I'm impatient. I want things to grow. Now. Like... Literally right now.

2. I get emotionally attached. Each seed that refuses to grow is like a teeny tiny stab through the heart. (Not to be dramatic or anything...).

3. I over-love. I'm guilty of over watering everything because I just care sooooo muchhhh.


Last year I helped my Gran with her garden, mostly because it was sunny and I could get a tan. She bought a Dahlia bulb with a weird name. I think it was "Bishop of Llandaff". It cost her £4. For one bulb. Every time I visited I'd check on the bulb. And... It didn't even bother to grow! Seriously. What's that about?!


Anyway, quite possibly with the view of continuing my gardening education, my Gran gave me a selection box (not sure if this is quite the right phrase - but you get what I mean!) of Allium blubs for my birthday (September, in case you wondered) and thus my journey began. Obviously, I promptly forgot about said bulbs until about February this year.


Now, bulbs are a good concept and all that, but they're not ideal for someone who needs immediate results - something which I found out after carefully inspecting my very bare patch of soil everyday for what felt like a thousand years. (They do now have some leaves and tiny little heads that are growing very veryyy slowly!).


Later, inspired by my flowery friend Donna who happens to be very good at growing beautiful flowers, I thought I'd have a go a sweet peas. I've planted sweet peas before but I always get them as seedlings from a garden centre and they've always been attacked by slugs. Feeling inspired I splashed out a whole pound on two packets of seeds. I used the pre-germination technique - which is basically putting the seeds in a warm place on some wet kitchen roll until they get little root tails and shoots. This part went pretty well, they grew little tails - and fast! Then I planted each of the shoots in toilet roll tubes filled with soil. (I don't know if this is actually better than using pots but I'm a recycling geek so... it made me happy).


A few days later my teeny seedlings were popping their heads out of the soil and I was chuffed to bits. After having Donna explain what "pinching out" means and actually doing it, I felt like a bit of a gardening pro. P.S. It means pinching out the top of the shoot so that they make more branch-y bits lower down and don't grow all tall and thin and gangly - which is apparently bad. (I should also note that at this point I got a bit over-confident and purchased some more seeds).

It was from here that my sweet peas, that I am now VERY emotionally attached to, started going down hill.




Here are the problems I am having:


1.) Skinny, floppy, rubbish looking seedlings.

They all have had the same amount of water, warmth, light so WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS TO ME?! I had a look online and it said something about fungus. I also read that cinnamon kills fungus. To cut a long story short: I covered them in cinnamon! So they smell Christmassy… But they're still floppy.


2.) Seedlings growing all cute and nice - and then just falling over!

I'm feeling like the soil isn't deep enough? Or the roots aren't holding them in? I don't know? I've shoved some more soil on but I really don't know what their deal is.


3.) What do I do with them now? Can they go outside in the ground? Outside in their little tubes and then in the ground?


So, obviously I asked my Gran, the fountain of all gardening knowledge, and she said I have some kind of... thing living in my soil (I forget the actual word she used) which is essentially eating the sitting stems from the inside and making them go skinny and fall over. I'm down from 40 seedlings to about 15 so I needed to act fast! I've planted the seedlings outside (in hopefully bug free soil) in a bamboo structure that even my Grandad said was very excellent (see pic!). I've even put some twiggy bits at the bottom so they can grip on with those little curly grippy bits that's sweet peas have.






One of the joys of working part time at a coffee shop is that I get access to lots coffee grounds and I am told that coffee repels slugs. I've given my babies a liberal sprinkling of coffee (mixed with the cinnamon, they're smelling fantastic!) and I have my fingers crossed that they will grow up nice and strong because, lets face it, I am not emotionally prepared for their failure.


If you want to keep up-to-date with my seedlings journey (and my gardening education) I'm forever posting about them on my Insta story. Alternatively, you can just use it as light entertainment for how clueless I am?!


P.S. The other seedlings: I'm down from 40 Cosmos seedlings to about 6. Major failure. A similar story is true of my Delphinium seeds. My poppies all died. (The less said about that the better!). My only success story so far are my MANY Nigella (also called Love-In-A-Mist by my Gran) babies who I've been planting out this week and also covered in coffee to put off anything that might fancy eating them!


If you have any hints or tips to allow me to actually keep my plants alive, please let me know!




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