}
Showing posts with label projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label projects. Show all posts

November 4, 2012

THE SECRET TO GROWING CHRYSANTHEMUMS

'River City' is a Recurve with an unusual color. A light champagne salmon.




'Coral Charm', a new coral or salmon colored variety. I disbudded this plant to achieve this larger flower, but typically this is grown as sprays. with many smaller flowers in a cluster.


Once the iconic blossom of autumn in Asia, the chrysanthemum moved from being a most auspicious flower to one of dull funereal status in the west. Today, it is being rediscovered by a new generation. I made this arrangement inspired by those loosely constructed by the stylish Brooklyn, NY firm of Saipua. It incorporates branches, autumnal leaves and other random clippings found around the garden today.





'John Lowry' A Reflexing Bloom in the style preferred in England. Bred by Harry Lawson in the U.K., This variety has one of the brightest colors in the greenhouse right now.


'Fort Smith', an Irregular Incurve, highly esteemed for exhibition potential, these are the giants of the Chrysanthemum world. These must be disbudded in order to achieve this size.

In the greenhouse, the exhibition mums are reaching peak bloom. Some of these plants are 6 feet tall.
The Chrysanthemum is experiencing a comeback.

Only kidding. Well, If I keep saying that maybe it will.  I will admit that the 5th most popular page on this blog remains exhibition chrysanthemums, so there must be SOME interest! I've have over 10,000 hits on those pages.


This bronze beauty is an exhibition form  known as 'regular incurve', a class , 'Heather James', is a new variety.
Blooms in this class are formally incurved with the ideal bloom forming a complete ball.



Sadly, aside from funeral mums, those florist mums, the cheapest of cut flowers, and those dreaded 'hardy mums' available in the fall, and yes, even those 'gift' mums wrapped in foil - the era of exhibition chrysanthemum is over. Growing exhibition mums is fun, and it only takes one season, but as they bloom later than the earliest frost, one needs a greenhouse or conservatory - and time. Did I mention time? I'll be honest, my mums look pretty crappy this year. I ran out of free time. I was lucky to even get them into the greenhouse on time before the froze. You can see how the foliage is a little damaged too from fungus.

Exhibition mums need a little care each week during the summer, and in normal years, they are quite growable. Cuttings arrive in May, I pot them up and take a second set of cuttings, pots are set out into the garden, and aside from some fertilizer each week, daily watering and  weekly pinching and some disbudding and staking as they grow, they are relatively easy. Watering is therapy after work in the summer when sometimes, if I get home in time, standing in the setting sun with a hose is exactly the decompression time that I need. 



In American, these are sometimes referred to as Irregular Incurve. In the USA we call them Football mums,' but in Japan, they are carefully trained and respected. This cultivar is 'Kokka Bunmi'. It is a very typical Japanese style flower with a long skirt of trailing florets dangling below it.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you also know that I am a sucker for exploring old fashioned horticultural techniques. Seventeenth Century, Eighteenth Century and Nineteenth Century growing techniques is fun for plant geeks like me who enjoy to exploring early horticultural methods, but sometimes I need to remind myself that such tasks were typically executed by large gardening staffs on private estates, and not by a single person with a full time job and a two hour commute. I found that the mums this year took a little too much time, considering that I also explored Sweet Pea culture and annual poppies at the same time.

Some mums have been bred to have very tiny blossoms, such as this bonsai-form known as 'Koto No Kaori'
Here is the same variety as seen at the New York Botanical Garden last year



I need to keep this post short, since I am still hand feeding one puppy, and she is crying. Plus, this week at work has been a bit of a Hell week, which has had me getting up in the dark in the morning, and returning near midnight - I've had little time for anything, it seems. Even finding time to eat has been difficult, let alone laundry, hurricanes and bill paying.

For more information about Chrysanthemums, check out the website for the National Chrysanthemum Society. If you want to try growing exhibition mums next year, order your cuttings from Kings Mums.




July 22, 2012

Harvesting Hardneck Garlic

'DUGANSKI' HEIRLOOM HARDNECK GARLIC, FRESHLY DUG AND READY TO BE CURED IN A DRY, SHADY SPOT OUTDOORS. 

Growing your own garlic takes time, this crop was planted last October 2, so if space is an issue, you may want to try buying garlic at your local farmers markets. Still, home grown garlic is pungent and strong, and crops can be heavy, so given the cost of even a few garlic bulbs, the flavor of home grown and the volume you will harvest, loosing some space from where you may want to grow tomatoes may be worth it. This year, I am mostly growing Garlic and Tomatoes, as space is precious and of course, the sweet peas took up a good amount of room, too.

 This is my first year growing garlic, and although I made some mistakes ( not cutting the flower scapes off early enough, and not digging some varieties earlier before the stems turned brown) I think I still have been able to harvest a decent crop of three varieties, Duganski, Bavarian Purple and Western Rose. Being somewhat of an bulb expert, I thought that growing garlic would be easy, but my logic was not always correct. Growing garlic is quite different than growing onions.

Across New England, gardeners are digging their garlic this week, as garlic must be dug before the tops fade away and dry, unlike onions. It's a bit of a judgement call, but most experts agree that once the first two bottom leaves begin to dry and turn brown, it is time to dig ( not pull) out your garlic crop. Garlic at this point, will still have strong roots, and stiff stems, and a curing period will be required. Don't wash the soil off of your bulbs, but rather allow them to dry ( never in the hot sun, as that can change the flavor). Find a shady spot outside, and let them air dry and cure for at least three weeks. Once the drying process is complete, snip off the stems leaving just small stump.
HARDNECK GARLIC IS READY TO DIG, IN MID TO LATE SUMMER, JUST AS THE BOTTOM LEAVES BEGIN TO DRY AND TURN BROWN.

USING A PITCHFORK TO FIRST LOOSEN THE SOIL, WILL ENSURE THAT BULBS ARE NOT DAMAGED, SO RESIST PULLING ON THE STEMS TO REMOVE THE GARLIC FROM THE SOIL. HARDNECK GARLIC AT THIS STAGE WILL STILL HAVE STRONG ROOTS, WHICH WILL NEED TO DRY OFF BEFORE BEING REMOVED AFTER THE CURING PROCESS.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO BRUISE OR DAMAGE THE GARLIC HEADS AFTER DIGGING, THE PAPERY SKIN WILL MATURE SLOWLY AS THE BULBS DRY IN THE SHADE. , AND ONCE DRY, ANY REMAINING SOIL CAN BE RUBBED OFF CAREFULLY, THE ROOTS TRIMMED AS THE STEM CUT FOR WINTER STORAGE..


HARDNECK GARLIC STEMS CAN BE LONG, THESE ARE NEARLY FEET TALL.

July 17, 2012

An Amazing Sweet Pea Round-Up

PINK, CORAL AND RED SHADES OF SPENCER VARIETY OF SWEET PEAS

As the summer heats up to a sweltering 100 degrees here in New England, and as my Spencer Sweet Pea Project which I began in mid February with the sowing of the seeds,  starts to finally end, I thought I would share the individual 'year book' shots. The vines have now reached far above their 8 foot cordon canes, and now, they are on their own - I am allowing them to fade away and go to seed ( not that I will save seed, as it will revert back to a poorer quality variety. 

A BOUQUET OF SIMILAR TINTS - A GREAT WAY TO SHOW OFF THE RANGE OF SWEET PEA COLORS. HERE, ALL PURPLES, BLUES AND VIOLETS.

Not that I am sick of sweet peas by any means, ( but you may be!), but I just can't imagine that they will be any good now that they must tumble down. The peak season is over, so I thought that I would share with you some individual images of each variety ( all are from seed that I bought from the Owl's Acre Sweet Peas website in the United Kingdom). A more detailed post will come as well a new handbook I am writing won't be done until the winter, but for now- enough with the sweet pea posts already! Enjoy the final yumminess.

VIOLET AND BLUE SHADES OF SPENCER VARIETY SWEET PEAS GROWN IN MY GARDEN THIS YEAR

One may wonder why all the work? Are sweet peas worth it? Well, so far, they have been in bloom for six weeks providing armloads of flowers with long stems and a fragrance to die for - a peony blooms only for 2 or 3 days. So sweet peas are worth it, if you want a long season of bloom, and it's not over yet.




I know, I could have washed my fingernails! But a gardeners hands are rarely tidy. My favorite sweet peas are the blue shades, which can range from nearly white, to what is just about the most perfect periwinkle tint in the entire plant kingdom, and to a rich, dark velvety purple.

JOE PICKS A BUNCH OF SWEET PEAS TO SHARE WITH OUR NEIGHBORS. THEY ARE POLISH, AND SPEAK VERY LITTLE ENGLISH, BUT THE WIFE SMILED WHEN HE BROUGHT THEM OVER - NO WORDS NEEDED!



A RICH BURGUNDY COLORED VARIETY NAMED "BURNISHED BRONZE'





July 7, 2012

HOW TO SOW AND GROW SHIRLEY POPPIES




Colorful Shirley Poppies raised from seed.
If you crave the delicate blossoms and stems of poppies and want to try growing some in your garden this year, consider the Shirley Poppy over Iceland Poppies. The 'Shirley Poppy' encompasses a cluster of selected strains of a a specific poppy - Papaver rhoeas. It's name comes from the village of Shirley, England, where the first strain was discovered in the late 1800's.


It's hard to find someone who cannot identify a poppy form - a tissue papery, crepe like flounce of fragile petals and a central boss of stamens. The poppy form is study of simplicity and poise, not as simple as a daisy, and not overly complex in form, it may suffer from the fact that school children rarely draw a poppy when asked to draw a flower. Still, it the poppy may be he most mysterious (read-un-seen) 'common' flower in our visual lexicon, for the 'idea' of 'poppy' exists in the greater consciousness of most everyone (Close your eyes and you can visualize it in your imagination), yet we rarely can touch one aside from the more common Oriental Poppy seen in many perennial borders, or the Iceland Poppy, seen in most big-box stores in the spring.  

We live a world that can only imagine fields of poppies, their unique symmetry and their loose, gossamer thin, over-lapping, tissue papery blossoms on wiry stems, but we rarely experience their physical presence. Yet pop-cultural references abound -  'the Wizard of Oz' ,Martha Stewart, Etsy,  Pinterest, Wedding Blogs - our digitally saturated web world informs us daily that we must grow or obtain 'the poppy', and crepe paper crafted ones aside, I am on a mission to inspire you to actually step away from your laptop, and to go grow some yourself, so that you can appreciate and experience the real joy of poppyhood.




Colorful annual Shirley poppy in a vase
I've noticed that our honey bees prefer the Shirley Poppies over most any flower in the garden. One look at the boss of stamens, and one can see why.




Mastering annual poppy culture requires that you follow some basic, sound horticultural knowledge.

1. Sow seed early - February or March in New England, and earlier in USDA Zones 6 and up.
2. Allow seeds to get light ( lightly rake the find seeds in and tamp down). They need light to germinate.
3. Thin seedlings early ( do not transplant, rather carefully pluck seedlings which are too close together, for they are tap roots and will sulk if transplanted).
4. Allow plants to develop with a minimum of disturbance, keep weeds out, and pray for temperatures in the 50ºs 
5. By June, you will be blessed with the goose neck, prickly buds and shortly after, gorgeous grey, pearl, salmon and blackberry colored blossoms.



Multicolored annual poppies raised from seed

A BRIEF  HISTORY OF THE SHIRLEY POPPY


Shirley Poppies are actually not a distinct species, but rather a strain, or even more correctly, multiple strains of the species P. rhoeas which have been selected for a color break from the wild species. Rather then completely red, the first strains were carefully selected for their pastel colors and muddy tints so stylish in the late 1800's. The name Shirley Poppies comes from where the first strain was developed, in the village of Shirley, in the United Kingdom where the vicar of a parish in the village made the very first selections, thus, isolating the first strains from wild poppies. Since then, all Shirley Poppy selections have originated from that first selection, and many are still grown today. The finest colors for mauve and smokey tones come from a strain called 'Sir Cedric Morris' and the grayest come from the 'Mother of Pearl' strains, which date back to 1889, and 1910 respectively. Both are work seeking out today for their distinctive colors, smokey grays and lavender, mauve edged in white, and opalescent shadowy tints. My favorite? The occasional dove gray or pewter blossom.

In any strain, there will always be some red flowers, so take note, especially if you are a color -purist.  You will have to pull these if you dare, but I find that in any mix, the colors seem to work perfectly, and add to the Victorian elegance of the selections.

Mother of Pearl strain of Shirley Poppies
SHIRLEY POPPY 'MOTHER OF PEARL' STRAIN


GOOD SEED = GREAT POPPIES

Success with Shirley Poppies correlated directly to seed strain, and seed source.   for unlike Iceland Poppies (P. nudicale), one cannot buy pre-started seedlings or plants at garden centers, and if you happen to find them, they will not grow as well as garden-sown plants.  If you desire poppies as I am showing in the photos here from my garden last year, the I suggest sourcing the gentle tinted strains - Sir Cedric Morris, now more commonly sold under the name 'Mother of Pearl', for one can replace the other, and both are variable - both strains which I highly recommend as they present perhaps the finest in color selection.

SOIL PREP

Prepare the soil by simple scratching the surface, if you are sowing in a raised bed, or turn over with a pitch fork and then rake away any rocks and sticks, to create a smooth surface where the seeds and sand can fall gently. Poppy seed needs light to germinate, so the surface texture before sowing should be relatively flat, and not furrowed, to minimize seed being covered too deeply once tamped down and watered in.




Poppy seed is extremely small, almost dust -like. Seed this small is best mixed into sand first, before sowing, which helps distribute the seed more evenly onto the surface of the soil.

SOWING ANNUAL POPPY SEED


Seed will often come in little, wax paper sachet's  within a traditional paper seed packet. Depending on the seed supplier, you may get only a few dozen of these precious tiny seeds, or nearly a teaspoon full. Most will provide only 30 - 100 seeds, and these  I mix a few packets of seed together with about 1 cup of dry sand, which I then carefully pour into a kitchen sieve with holes large enough to allow the seed and the sand to pass through ( this will take some practice, to find the perfect sieve). If you find a supplier that provides you with a lot of seed, don't be tempted to use too much, for a thick sowing is what you want to avoid. About 1/2 teaspoon of seed to 1 cup of sand before sowing a space which is 6 feet long by 2 feet wide will be sufficient.




SOWING SEED

All annual poppy seed is small, so tiny, it can be like dust. I find that mixing seed with sand before sowing makes not only the sowing an easier task, it helps separate the seed so that an even distribution can be achieved. All poppies dislike transplanting, as they are tap-rooted plants, and need to form a straight root with minimal or zero root disturbance. This is why one rarely finds annual poppies sold in garden centers, they are old fashioned annual which must be sown where they are to be grown.


After mixing the seed into coarse sand, the entire mixture is placed into a sieve with the proper hole dimension, to allow both the seed and sand to pass through evenly.

The seed and sand mixture is then 'dusted' onto the surface of the prepared bed. Remember - poppy seed needs light to germinate, so do not cover the seed, and be careful not to 'dust' the sand too liberally. A thinner application of seed is better than a thicker one. Strive for seeds distributed every 4 or 5 inches, as plants growing together will aid in staking, and help hold each other up.

Tamp and firm soil before watering.
Tap the sieve with the seed and sand mixture carefully over the prepared bed, in much the same way one would dust a cake with confectioners sugar. Follow up with a firm tamping of the ground to ensure that each tiny seed comes in contact with the soil. I use a scrap piece of wood, but you can use anything from a brick, to your boot if it is dry ( avoid using a damp muddy boot, for you risk picking up more seed than you are sowing).





SOWING TIME

In mild areas, or in the south, annual poppies prefer being sown in autumn, but in areas where winters are brutally cold and wet, an early spring sowing is safest. I prepare a bed where only poppies are to be grown, in this way, weeding around the tiny seedlings is easier. Dedicating an edge of a raised bed in the vegetable garden is a great place to plant a row of poppies, and any competition can be eliminated easily. 

March to April is the preferred time to sow outdoors, for poppies can endure cold temperatures and light frosts while seedlings. Not every year will be the perfect poppy growing year, just as not every year will be the perfect sweet pea growing year, but one must try each year, and cherish those which bring cool nights in the spring and early summer.


Water newly planted poppy seeds
Once the soil surface is tamped down, water in with a spray of water, or with a sprinkler. This is essential now, and until the seedlings are 3 inches tall, for if allowed to dry out in early spring, an entire crop can be lost. 



EARLY CARE


Tiny poppy seedlings in the garden.
Newly emerging seedlings are tiny - watch carefully for weeds, and learn to identify what the young seedlings of Shirley Poppies look like ( look closely in the foreground of the image).
Look for seedlings at the two week mark,  and look with care, for they will be extremely small. The thin cotyledons will look pine needle-like. Learn to identify what poppy seedlings look like and what weeds look like,( a good basic skill to practice here if you are a beginner), as weeding will become your greatest chore from now until your poppies bloom.


Five week old seedlings of Shirley Poppies in the garden.
Five week seedlings of Shirley Poppies - even the foliage is attractive.


Annual Shirley Poppies being staked.
These three month-old seedlings are almost ready for staking. At this stage, I add twigs and sometimes twine, weaving in and around the tender stems. One must do this early enough before a spring rain shower can cause damage
to the fleshy celery-like stems.

THINNING - Each week after the seedling emerge, you will need to check for weeds, and some careful thinning if plants seed too close, but poppies will have a way of producing both dominant plants and weaker ones, so most of the time, no thinning will be needed which is best, as even careful extraction of seedlings can damage nearby seedling roots. Poppies are best left alone, with little tending, which is where most seed catalogs probably get the 'easy to grow' statement.

Poppies sown in March will seed as if they are growing painfully slow, and you may be tempted to add other annuals in-between, but be patient - plant will suddenly take off and grow many inches in  only a few weeks in late May, and by mid June, flower buds will start to open. 

Shirley Poppies carefully staked and forming seed pods.
Carefully staked Shirley poppies in my garden in early July in full, color glory. Blossoms are short lived, a day or so, but new ones open as fast as the petals fall. Try to keep seed pods from forming, and keep up with your staking, as needed.


ONGOING CARE


CONTINUE STAKING -By July 1, plants should be in full bloom.  At this stage, your greatest challenge will be staking your plants, ( one never wants to see stakes, so fastidious gardeners often use birch twigs and olive-colored yarn), for poppies are tender and fragile, and even a passing skunk or cat can disrupt a border planting, resulting a terrible mess with just one evening's romp. You may feel that your plants appear strong and sturdy, but one downpour or a fierce hail storm can wreck a border in an instant.

Small bamboo stakes placed carefully within the plants will be necessary as well as staking twine or yarn, Great skill may be needed to create an innovative staking method where one cannot see the structure. Use  your best judgement ( and macrame skills).


FERTILIZER

Proper nutrition is essential. I use a 10-10-10 water soluble fertilizer once in early spring at half strength when the seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, and then I follow up with a flower strengthening fertilizer with an analysis of 4-10-8 when plants are 1 foot tall. Always be sure that the grown is damp ( not wet). Poppies have few diseases beyond mildew and fungus, which alone, are quite damaging. There is little one can do once the weather becomes hot and humid, except to break out the gin and tonic, and sit back and watch the poppies fail. Relax, and just assume that this will happen eventually, and have a back up plan for the same spot once your plants are done blooming, around the second or third week of July. I sow pansy seed for the fall.

Allowing Shirley Poppies to seed and self sow.
Once hot and humid weather arrives in mid-July, the annual poppy season is over, as practically overnight, fungus and rot sets in. Seed can be saved but the strains are best is sown with fresh seed each year rather than allowing seed to self sow. Still, I leave a few seed pods to mature in the vegetable garden.


END OF SEASON ADVICE

The Shirley poppy season ends all too quickly, starting to blossom in mid-June, and ending in early to mid-July, but that should never stop us from expecting more in some years, or from enjoying their brief gift of 'wow'. Generally speaking, as soon as the hot and humid weather arrives here in New England, which is around mid - July. In coastal areas, the poppy season is over. If you garden in the Pacific coastal areas, your season may start earlier, and last longer, if you garden in the mid-Atlantic, it may be shorter.

I feel that I should manage some expectations here. Annual poppies are not architectural statements, ( the planted beds are rarely beautiful statements), as they are casual and loose. if you are fussy about  garden design, they are best planted near fences, in shabby cottage gardens or in clearly defined spaces where they can occupy a large circle of soil for a few, albeit spectacular weeks in early summer, and then removed once they have faded. You must then replace them with something else seasonal and later.  One must also accept the colors they come in, so forget designing a color palette around them. Seed strains are simply too variable.   Be aware that they will want to self seed, but they are far from  being pests, but clearly they are not recommended  plants for control freaks or formal plantings.

My best advice is to invite Shirley Poppies and P. rhoeas into your garden, gracefully. Think of them as rare, French Impressionist flowers ( as, well, they are!) - rejoice in their surprising colors as if they were dabs of bright colored coral tinted paint in your landscape - virtual pointillism alive in your garden. Accept that they are terribly short lived and briefly stunning, and most importantly, they can be a statement of both your horticultural prowess, and your taste level, as well.

June 2, 2012

Sweet Pea Project Update and Fertilizing Notes

Spencer varieties of Sweet Peas, being trained in the cordon method - bamboo poles with a single stem tied to each, are progressing nicely, with some plants growing 14 inches a week. As flower buds begin to form, maintenance over the  next few weeks will be intense, with daily chores.

My experiment in growing the 'perfect cut flower English sweet peas' is progressing nicely. The weather, which is always the primary factor in success or failure,  has been unusually cooperative providing plenty of cool rain, bright sunny days and cool nights, and the long day length has my crop growing fast and furious. Here is an update on where I am with the project. 

WITH HEAVY RAIN LAST NIGHT AND TODAY, EVEN A SINGLE DAY MISSED IN STAKING THE SWEET PEAS, HAS RESULTED IN SOME BROKEN STEMS.

Sweet peas are not easy to grow, for they require a lot of maintenance and attention, if you want long stems and large flowers. If you remember, in February I started seeds in root trainers, planting out in March under cloches, after pinching out the growing points. Cut flower Sweet peas love cold weather, which is why they are grown so well in England, but rarely seen in America. Here, they require a very early sowing in order to mature before the hot weather does them in. One can sow seeds directly in the cold ground, but sweet peas really reward you well if grown properly. Surprisingly, the same well rooted seedlings that I planted out in other beds and trained onto wire cages, are much smaller than these plants which are being trained with just a single stem onto bamboo poles, called cordons, an old method which has been used for growing exhibition sweet peas for at least 150 years. My garden plants not trained onto cordons will still produce a multitude of flowers, but the quality will be vastly different.

PLASTIC RIBBON TIES ARE USED TO TIE EACH SINGLE STEM TO A BAMBOO STAKE, SINCE IT WILL NOT CUT THE TENDER SWEET PEA STEM, AND BEING SOMEWHAT ELASTIC, IT HOLDS THE THE STEM SECURELY WITHOUT DAMAGE.

I imagine that over the next month, there will be plenty of posts featuring these sweet peas, so bear with me. If the weather remains cool and damp, the season might be extraordinary, but even if it turns hot and humid ( as it will) I am confidant that these plants are now well rooted and strong enough to provide cut flowers until the end of July. I've planned a Sweet Pea dinner party to celebrate a friend's new job at the end of June, featuring local grown produce and a sit-down, outdoor farm table dinner. Last Sunday, while staking plants,  I was a bit worried that June 25th might be too early for sweet peas, but now that flower buds are showing, and that the plants are growing nearly a foot a week, I am no longer concerned. I should have more than enough sweet peas than any human could handle.
THE PLANTS THAT HAVE BEEN TRAINED TO JUST A SINGLE STEM, HAVE MASSIVE STEMS, ALMOST AS THICK AS MY FINGER, AND THE FOLIAGE IS AS LARGE AS MY HAND. THE SAME PLANTS NOT TRAINED TO A SINGLE STEM IN THE GARDEN, HAVE LEAVES THAT ARE THE SIZE OF BOTTLE CAPS.
 Cut flower or exhibition quality sweet peas require proper nutrition, in order to produce first, the strong roots that they need, and then foliage and later, strong flower stems. As seedlings, the plants received 5.5.10 fertilizer, so that strong roots could be formed. Later, at planting out, year old manure was turned into the soil along with lime, to achieve the proper pH of  a neutral soil which is 7 to 7.5. Our soil here in central Massachusetts is high in acid, and has a default pH of 6.0 but it changes throughout my raised beds, so I test each one noting what plants or vegetables will be planted in each.

 I know that many of you will say that sweet peas don't really care about soil pH, but I find that the more neutral the soil, the larger the plants are, in fact, the plants may grow everywhere ( I have them growing right now in many places around the garden) but the plants in my two beds where the soil has be altered to 7.5, have plants that are three times the size and volume than those untended. They all will flower, but the difference is more than just notable, it's extraordinary.
GROWTH OCCURS AT LIGHTNING SPEED IN EARLY JUNE, THESE PLANTS HAVE GROWN 14 INCHES LAST LAST SUNDAY, SO DAILY TIES CHECKS ARE NEEDED. 
Last week, I started using a fertilizer high in phosphorus, to encourage strong flower stems and flowing in general. A 5-10-5 is perfect for this, and I will only apply this twice over the growing period. Weak plants that are malnourished will suffer ( the same goes for edible peas). I did use a legume inoculate, and I am not concerned about nitrogen, as the rain and soil will supply enough of that, but a fertilizer with the proper analysis is essential for sweet peas ( as well as most any other plant) if you are serious about harvesting something worth your efforts. 

You new to gardening, especially vegetable gardening may feel that fertilizers are dangerous and yes, it's true that large scale agriculture mis-uses fertilizer, but in the home garden, it is essential, and no single fertilizer is good for everything. If you want to be all organic, remember that all fertilizer is rooted in chemistry, so act wisely. Fish Emulsion may seem like a good choice, but if you are growing root crops like carrots, you are doing more damage than good. Blood meal and bone meal may seem like safe choices, but they are very slow acting, and often take a year to break down. 

I use more everything, phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, micro nutrients and minerals, but only based on the particular species need, and my soil testing. I equate it to my own personal blood analysis - high sugar or cholesterol, too much salt or a b6 deficiency? Your responsible, as a gardener, to be a doctor - just be informed and use the proper medication or nutrient to counteract or treat and deficiency. Simple. Otherwise, you will end up with stumpy, twisted tough woody carrots, spotty, yellow tomatoes and twisty beans. Be serious about growing your food. Plants need to be strong, and well grown to be able to withstand diseases - that is an essential part of organic gardening.

 Fresh manure is still best, but it is highest in nitrogen, and can burn an entire crop, that is, if you can even find it. Composted manure from your hardware store is often just composted wood mulch with a little manure added. I prefer granular elements that I mix myself, based on the nutritional needs of each plant, and then I fertilize only as needed, at half the strength. There are times when water soluble fertilizer is best, as it is quick acting, and with many plants, that is preferred, especially vegetables which need both foliar feeding as well as root nutrients.

SUCKERS ARE CUT OFF, WHICH PAINS ME, BUT IT ENSURES STRONG STEMS AND LONG FLOWER STEMS. ON SOME PLANTS, I HAVE ALLOWED 2 OR 3 STEMS, BUT ON STRONGER PLANTS, ONLY ONE. THIS TIME OF YEAR, SUCKERS ARE PRODUCED QUICKLY, SO WEEKLY CHECKS MUST BE MADE.

THE FIRST FLOWER BUDS ARE EMERGING. WHEN I CHECKED THE PLANTS FOR FLOWER BUDS LAST WEEKEND, I COULD NOT FIND A SINGLE ONE. TODAY, MOST EVERY PLANT HAS BUDS FORMING.

ONE OF THE MOST TEDIOUS TASKS IS SNIPPING OFF ALL TENDRILS, WHICH ARE NOT NEEDED ANYWAY, SINCE THESE PLANTS ARE BEING TIED TO POLES. I ACTUALLY LIKE THIS PART OF THE PROJECT, THERE IS SOME PLEASURE IN SNIPPING OFF EACH ONE.

THE TENDRILS ON THE CORDON GROWN PLANTS ARE DANGEROUS, BECAUSE THEY ARE LARGE AND GRAB ONTO NEIGHBORING PLANTS, TWISTING AROUND NEW STEMS, FOLIAGE AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, EMERGING FLOWER STEMS. THESE GIAN PLANTS HAVE TENDRIL HEAD NEARLY A FOOT ACROSS.

TENDRILS CAN TURN A HEALTHY PLANT WITH NEW FLOWER BUDS INTO A TANGLED MESS IN JUST A SINGLE NIGHT.

CUT FLOWER SWEET PEAS ASIDE, I DO GROW SNAP PEAS AND ENGLISH PEAS FOR EATING TOO.
THESE SUGAR SNAPS ARE NOT ONLY BLOOMING ALREADY, THEY ARE PROVIDING OUR FIRST PEAS FOR DINNER.

SUGAR SNAP PEAS READY TO PICK, NEIGHBORING THE BEDS WITH THE FANCY SWEET PEAS FOR CUT FLOWERS, THESE ARE VALUED JUST AS MUCH EVEN THOUGH THEIR FLOWERS MAY NOT BE AS PRETTY. BY NEXT WEEK, WE WILL BE SWIMMING IN PEAS OF ALL SORTS.