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Growing sweet peas in rows (in a raised bed)

I usually grow sweet peas in big pots but thought I would put some in my raised veg bed this year. I can see advice about spacing (6 inches/15cm apart) but how much space should I leave between rows? The same as edible peas? (45cm?)
So just to be clear, a single row of sweet peas then, if i want another row, plant that 45cm apart from the first.
My second question is, what's the best support for them? They have a cane wigwam affair when in pots. Would netting be advisable for my raised bed, and if so, should it be vertical or slanting? (Not sure how to support a net either. The raised bed is only about 40cm deep although sited directly on the ground.) Or would the same set up I have for French climbing beans do? (Two rows of canes at angles to the ground and meeting each other and secured where they meet at the top.)
I would rather not put a wigwam in the raised bed for economy of space reasons. If I do just one row of sweet peas, I will also be growing two rows of French beans and one peas in the same bed, so it will be a bit tight. 
I hope this all makes sense...!
Just reading it is making me wonder if it's all a bit too complicated and I should stick to pots... It will be a lot more effort on the watering front, although part of the thinking was that the raised beds might dry out less readily than pots. But I really would like to give this a go.



  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,064
    edited 15 March
    I think netting is usually the best method for planting in rows. They did a trial on Beechgrove a while back so you might get some info there. You'd need a good support at each end, or at regular intervals depending on the length of run. A post of some kind.
    Not something I've ever done. Mine mostly go in pots because in borders they can often get annihilated quickly by slugs, even when they're good, healthy plants. I do the odd one in beds, and they either scramble through other plants, or they're next to clematis so they use the same supports, or the clematis itself. 

    I think the other problem will be watering and feeding - ie the access for that. They need a lot of both. 
    Are they going in with other veg too?
    I've just realised you mentioned that. It'll depend on the size of space, and whether the peas etc need extra food. A good layer of manure will help the sweet peas though, but there'll be competition from the other plants.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • REMF33REMF33 Posts: 478
    Thanks very much. I have seen pictures of vertical netting but wasn't sure if it was just one row of plants per net or plants either side of it (wishful thinking, probably...!) I will check out Beechgrove.
    Yes they are going in with (probably) French climbing beans and edible peas. Or, they could go in with sweetcorn in the smaller bed. I haven't quite decided yet.
    Maybe it's not a great idea. It's just that my ones in pots always get mildewed to death (literally) within 6 weeks. I think I water them well enough. (Every day or every other day, depending on the weather, until the water runs out the bottom of the pots.) I even put some water retaining gel in with them last year. They were planted with some Sarah Raven sweet pea feed (which i imagine is a bit like and as unnecessary as giving my cats Sheba to eat...!) and they also had subsequent liquid feeds. Last year I also shoved some spares in the ground, where they were not watered at all, and they lasted longer. No mildew that I noticed. (The Calendula succumbed, eventually, although not until the end of the season.)
    They were at the back of a north east-facing bed so I couldn't pick or appreciate them (they sprawled anyway) but also would have had much less sun than the potted ones (and thus been less inclined to dry out).
    I autum sowed for this year to see if this helps but I thought I might as well try various different conditions in the experiment to find the best (just any) way to have longe-lasting sweet peas, hence the raised bed idea.
    I just don't have enough room in flower beds to put them in there. Or if I do it will be to the exclusion of other things I really want to grow that do less well in pots. (Plus I also want to limit things in pots! The watering gets crazy in the summer.)
    I am coming to the conclusion that probably most things prefer the ground. My potted calendulas in previous years succumbed to mildew very quickly too.
    Of course the other mistake might be to put too many in a pot. I will be doing my best to not do this this year. It's always tempting when you have a lot and not enough pots, and compost is getting rather expensive these days.

    This is my third year of growing sweet peas from seed so not a complette novice but still clearly very much on a learning curve. I am deterimined to make it work!
  • REMF33REMF33 Posts: 478
    I suppose I could do a mini wigwam in one of the raised beds just as an experiment.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,064
    In pots, even here in my wetter climate, I need to water, as the foliage prevents rain getting in. I also use turf in the base of them to help retain moisture, and add manure if possible, or a good hefty compost, and I use slow release food at the start, and then tomato food later in the year. Another poster asked me about growing them in pots earlier today. I'll see if I can find the link to that.
    The other advice I'd give is - keep them in a shadier spot. They're always touted as being sun lovers, but again, even here, they can struggle far more in sunny sites. Heat and sun drains the life out of them very easily, especially in pots.
    We had a very hot summer last year, and the ones I had in the south facing spot [as usual] really struggled and didn't do nearly as well, so if you're in a warmer area, it's worth trying some in a site with some respite from the midday sun in particular.  :)

    I put around 8 or 9 in a big pot - around 12 inches diameter. It just depends on what I have. Usually 3 canes in the 12 inch pots, with 2 at each cane, but if I have a spare 1 or 2, I'd add them. In the bigger pots - about 15 inches diameter, I might have four canes, with the same distribution, but I can often add one in between each cane. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,064
    Here you go - end of page 1 and into page 2 is the relevant bit  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • REMF33REMF33 Posts: 478
    Hmm well shadier spots are one thing I do have in plenty in my garden!

    The National Sweet Pea society say "Spencers need 7 litres per plant with Old Fashioned needing 5". A 20 inch pot holds 40l. I probably am putting too many even in my 18 inch pots given that there are two plants per sowing container. It's hard to hold back! 4 root trainer cells per (such a large) pot isn't very many! I will have to be very disciplined.
    Any one want any spare sweet pea plants?!? :o  I had definitely not better sow any more.
    Clearly part of my problem is that I am too greedy (and want to grow lots of different varieties)!

    I might try putting some in my semi-shade kale patch... (Just one or two to experiment...)

    Thanks for the thread and for your advice, FG. I think I tend to over think things, but clearly it's not really all turning out ok in the end, as it does with many gardening things I over think, when it comes to sweet peas!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,064
    edited 15 March
    I know the problem. We're probably all guilty of being greedy  ;)
    I don't grow many annuals really, but I do like my sweet peas. There's no doubt they need plenty of food and water, and anything you can do to help that is good. I probably still have too many in mine, but I also try to use my big, straight sided pots for them, which means more root room, and more volume of soil.
    I tend to grow mainly whites/creams and dark purples. The whites are particularly good for a shadier spot. 
    This is from last year - late July. That part where the sweet peas are is shaded through most of the day, because of the fence behind, and the large trees etc out of sight in the pic. It's basically north, to north west facing. A little sun in the morning, and a little bit late in the afternoon to early evening.

    I sow mine 3 to a pot, and I use those takeaway coffee cups as my daughter treats me now and again to one. I usually plant the whole pot, even if they all germinate, so that I don't disturb roots. It's only if I have too many that I might remove one.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • REMF33REMF33 Posts: 478
    Gosh your tidy garden puts mine to shame! It looks lovely.

    The coffee cups are a good idea. I could count the number of those I have had in the last 2 years on one hand though. (I had to go and have two specially, last autumn, to make something with for a science experiment book I was contributing to at work!)

    I have been using biodegradable grow tubes and resuable root trainers.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,064
    I just used to use standard pots, but the cup have that extra depth which means less worries about them sitting around for too long, and roots coming out the bottom  ;) 
    I use them for lots of seeds now, and they last quite well too, so I often have some from the previous year's sowings.

    Thank you - that's very kind re the garden. That wee area was just being planted up after I did a new pond in spring. That gravelled bit was lawn until last year. I do a pot of the same sweet peas at the end of the new pond too. The bit where the rhodo and other planting is, was where the old [small] pond was, and the area with the pots is planted up now too.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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