By Bob Hart
Many celebrities have reached stardom through the advent of gardening programmes, and many lesser mortals look up to them treating them as the "here all and end all" of gardening authority" and believe me they are not, they may have studied all the Latin names of plants but if theirs were the only way of keeping the species alive there would be no plants at all, since all plants are the production of mother nature. Their way of doing things are not the only way, for instance if I took cuttings from any species of plant and threw them under a hedge row it would be odds on that some would strike and reproduce. The point being, experiment yourself.
It is not in any garden book that you can take cuttings off Sweet Peas, but the fact is you can, and it is a very simple thing to do, some special S/P seeds are very expensive, but in one season it is possible to take cuttings off cuttings this is what I have discovered: If you plant the seed in a pot of good compost beginning of February, water well, cover with cling film keeping them at 60/65F., then when the plant has produced six full leafs, cut them back so as to leave four leaves on the original plant, the piece you have cut off is extremely valuable since it contains the leader cell growth, in affect stem cells, dip this in hormone powder, and stand in a jar of water the hormone powder will stimulate growth to the extent that it will have a stronger root complex than the original plant, you do not have to use water you can plant direct into compost but you will not have the benefit of watching the root growth which takes 10 days, no other part of the Sweet Pea will allow cuttings. The most important thing is you must water the leafs every day until the roots appear
The fallacy of digging a deep trench to grow prize plants are a myth, I dug three trenches one season, two feet, one foot and six inches, into which I put the manure, I also planted a row with no trench at all, but well manured ground and the results were absolutely no difference, but they do require plenty of water always keep the ground moist. I will not try to say what flower names to use it is purely a matter of choice. I do not grow for prize winning, but have in the past cut 1700 bunches in one season. When you plant out ensure the plants have produced enough root be able to withstand the late frost's, the top of the plant is quite hardy but if a ground frost is severe enough the roots structure will rupture. You will find that as the season progresses the stalks will get very much shorter, they know that they are finding sunlight easier, if you can arrange shade the stalks will increase in length again.
There is one nasty problem I have encountered; that is the plant being cut off at ground level this I found was caused by a surface fungus "invisible to the naked eye" this can be avoided with anti fungi control.
Pinch out "ALL" tendrils that are not supportive, spray
anti green fly even though there is none visual keep the ground
moist, if the ground has little fibre add chemical food to your
watering, try to shade after first crop to get long stalks.