General Care of Sweet Pea Plants
FEEDING AND WATERING
If thehas been deeply and liberally prepared, feeding and watering are often quite unnecessary.
A surface mulch of loose decayed manure or sedge peat put round the plants conserves the moisture during summer, but if the plants really need watering, give them a heavy soaking at intervals of not less than 10 days, rather than sprinkling them more frequently.
If they need feeding, liquid animal manure and soot water, well diluted, are excellent. There are also good compound fertilizers which can be used with safety, but do not exceed the dosage recommended on the container.
DISEASES AND PESTS
Sweet pea plants grown naturally are very rarely troubled by disease, but plants grown by the cordon method do occasionally suffer loss from disease carried mainly by greenfly. Keep these pests in check by spraying with an insecticide such as malathion used at half strength, starting when the plants are.
Slugs and snails can also be destructive, so until the plants are 1 ft. high control these pests with one of the proprietary brands of slug killer, or meta-bran mixture made by crushing a small brick of metaldehyde and mixing it with a pint of bran. Little heaps of this mixture put in frames or along rows will attract and kill any slugs. If wireworms or other soil pests are suspected, dress the soil with a soil fumigant at least a fortnight before sowing or.
Bud-dropping, which again is more likely to happen to cordon-grown plants than those grown naturally, is not a disease but a condition induced by ad-verse circumstances such as too much moisture at the roots, abnormally cool and sunless weather, or sudden weather changes. There is nothing that can be done about this condition, but it usually lasts for only a few days and the plants then regain their normal balance.
Sparrows often attack the tender growths of seedlings, so suspend strands of black cotton immediately above the plants to discourage the birds. In some localities tits cause havoc, particularly to cordon-grown plants, by mutilating the flower buds before they open. No one seems to know why they do this and no really effective remedy has been discovered.
There is a very large number of varieties to choose from and the influx of new varieties each year is so considerable that although the newcomers are not always an improvement on the older varieties, they certainly tend to upset any choice made the previous year.
The following really good and reliable varieties are all of Late Spencer type — the type predominantly grown at the present time in Great Britain. Some of these varieties are especially good for exhibition and some are more sweetly scented than others.