By the average man I mean the man who requires good average sweet peas for home decoration, for cutting and giving away to friends, and who is therefore not prepared to give their culture anything like the great amount of attention bestowed by the keen exhibitor on his plants.
The basis of successful sweet pea culture is laid in the autumn in the preparation of the soil. A site in the garden ought to be selected which is well exposed to the sun, and sheltered from strong and draughty winds. Whether the plants are to be grown in lines or in clumps, I advocate the digging two spits deep of the entire area. If the subsoil is poor do not bring it to the surface, but dig it all the same. If the work is honestly carried out, the soil should be moved to the depth of two feet. Manure should be incorporated in the soil in the process of autumn digging - it is immaterial what sort of dung is used, if it is rich and well made, that is, old and partially decomposed. For light soils cow dung is preferable. The question is often asked how much well-made dung constitutes a good dressing? The answer is one hundredweight to six square yards. Most soils are deficient in lime, and after the digging has been completed the surface might with advantage be dusted with powdered lime, which winter rains will work into the soil. By dusting I mean powdered like a slight shower of snow, an effect which can be got by two to three ounces of lime to each square yard. In the rough condition in which it is left after the autumn digging, the ground should be left until spring, and the rougher it is left over winter, the better. Just before planting time, the surface should be worked down level with a rake or fork. The question whether to grow in clumps or lines must be left for decision to the taste of the individual.