For sowing sweet-peas in the open the ground should, of course, be prepared in the same way as above. Successional sowings should be made, beginning not later than the middle of March. Seeds may be sown in February in favourable situations. The ground should be raked smooth and even, and made fairly firm with the feet.
It is a convenient method to place the small twigs in the ground (for preliminary training) before the seeds are sown, as no disturbance of the young plants is then necessary; indeed, the entire staking may be done at the same time if desired.
Before sowing the seeds dip them in paraffin, and then shake them about in a saucer of red lead until they are thoroughly coated. This method will ensure protection against the ravages of birds and mice.
The seeds should be put in an inch deep and 2 inches apart, the plants being subsequently thinned to 3 inches. In gardens where sweet-peas flourish abundantly the plants may be thinned to 4 or even 6 inches apart.
As soon as the seedlings appear above ground they must be protected with pea-
Copyright, Messrs. Sutton & Sons, Reading guards, or with black cotton stretched 011 little sticks across and across, to baffle the birds, which are given to " topping " the young pea plants unmercifully.
In dry weather the plants should be watered copiously, with rain-water if it can be obtained. Liquid manure can be given once or twice weekly. To make the liquid some cow-manure should be put into a tank of water, and a sack of soot be placed with it. Take out a canful of the liquid, and dilute it with soft water until it assumes a pale colour. Sulphate of ammonia and superphosphate of lime are both good stimulants for sweet-peas, and should be used in the proportion of half a pound and one pound respectively to one gallon of water. The fertiliser must not be allowed to touch the foliage, or scorching will result.
Much more important than watering is the work of keeping the soil aerated by frequent hoeings. A moist and healthy condition will be promoted in the soil if the ground is stirred up regularly in this way. When watering is necessary, the ground should be lightly hoed beforehand; this should also be done, if possible, before or after a shower of rain.
Dusting the plants with lime or soot will make them distasteful to slugs, etc., or the preparation known as Slugene may be applied, forking the powder lightly in.
Sweet - peas are sometimes attacked by green-fly, in which case they should at once be syringed, using soft-soap and quassia water as an insecticide. Pour half a gallon of boiling water over half a pound of quassia chips, stir while it is cooling, and add four gallons of cold soft water, after straining. The soap should be dissolved in a little hot water, and stirred in with the above. The plants should be sprayed after sundown, and thoroughly syringed with clear water early the next day.