Mice get at the seed immediately it is sown if they can, either in boxes, in frames or greenhouse, or in the ground in the open. Under glass they can usually be kept off by putting a sheet of glass over the box or pot till germination takes place, after which the danger is past. Out of doors, if mice are about, the best safeguard is to coat the seeds with red-lead before sowing. Then neither mice nor birds will take them. The best way to apply the red lead is to wet the seed and then roll it among dry red-lead in a saucer or basin.
Birds of several kinds attack the young plants in spring, and pinch out the growing buds. They can be kept off by stretching several strands of black thread or thin dark coloured twine along the rows.
Snails and slugs are fond of the soft young growths and in moist weather in spring feed on them with avidity. Dustings of soot and lime are temporary preventives; the only effective one being to catch the depredators at night with the aid of a lantern. In a wholesale way many may be killed by dusting the ground with freshly slaked lime on a mild night after dark, when the slugs are out feeding.
There is a tendency on the part of some writers to magnify troubles - the troubles that afflict Sweet Peas as well as other things, but I hope no one will be influenced against taking up the culture of the most charming of all annual flowers on that account. To me, and to my friends, the culture of the Sweet Pea has presented fewer difficulties than many another flower, and I am sure our experience is that of the great majority who have taken, or will take up its culture. In conclusion let me quote a few lines I wrote in 1909 : "A charming American lady said of the great Sweet Pea Show which filled every corner of the Royal Horticultural Society's Hall in July last, 'It was an ocean of loveliness.' And so it was. Those who have spent many years of their lives in touch with the ocean know that the bays and the creeks are quite the loveliest portions of the mighty deep. Into these small areas there seems to be poured twice a day the concentrated grandeur and beauty of the ocean. Here we might find a simile for our enthusiastic Sweet Pea growers. They cannot have an ocean of loveliness but they can have an estuary of loveliness all to themselves. In their confined little gardens they can have all the best things produced in the Sweet Pea world. They can garner into their small compounds the finest creations of the two hemispheres, and get more joy and pleasure out of them than if they had acres of them, or otherwise an ocean of them, which they could only inspect perfunctorily."
"Ask why God made the gem so small,
An' why so huge the granite?
Because He meant mankind should set The higher value on it." - Burns.