I have sweet pea dreams. Colourful, giant blossoms with scent that carries for miles. I love their names and the stories that go with them. I love that somehow there is always a elderly, charming, flower obsessed British man that has created the varieties and grown the seed. But I hate to break it those chaps, I want in on their game.
A very long term goal of mine is to get into flower seed production. A gateway to that for me is seed variety trials. I dabbled a bit last year and decided this year to make it official. And of course, I had to do sweet peas first.
Talk to any flower farmer across Canada and your going to hear a similar complaint: where are our local seed houses for flowers? Much of the flower seed being produced and used by cut flower growers across Canada is grown internationally in place like the Netherlands, Israel, and various South American and African countries. Much of this seed is for outfitting large scale, corporate farms that use conventional methods of production and the varieties are selected for the climates of the countries where the seed is originally grown. Because of this, there is a knowledge gap in the performance of varieties in other locations.
Lastly, Canadian flower growers have a difficult time accessing seed, bulbs/tubers and other plant material and, therefore, are lagging behind flower trends and tend to pay higher prices due to currency exchange.
There is an exciting revival of small scale Canada seed houses catering to the revival of local cut flower farms. These seed houses import interesting plant materials, but it is still being produced in the countries mentioned above. Many of our most interesting sweet peas are coming out of New Zealand and England. Which ones would do best growing in Ontario with our conditions, with our types of farming methods, for our uses and if we could figure that out, what one's could we raise for our own seed?
Luckily for me, I have 4 flower farmer friends (Floralora Flowers, La Primavera Farms, Harris Flower Farm and Wendalane Farm) that are willing join me on this crazy mission to try and figure out what are some of the best blush and white varieties for Ontario growers. I'll be acting as the "mother" site, growing all 10 varieties and each of their "satellite" farms will be replicating my results growing 3 varieties each.
Sweet pea extravaganza!I can't wait to be swimming in the ocean of them all!
Thank you to Lauren Kolyn for the beautiful sweet pea imagery from 2016 featured in this post.