Read Seed Packets for Better Spring Planting

by Ken Lain, The Mountain Gardener, Watters Garden

We recommend sowing based on our average last frost date of May 8. When you’re ready to plant, cut out the plant tag, securing it to a garden stake. The label states the number of days before seedlings emerge, how deep to plant, the distance between each, and the recommended thinning instructions. The reverse side shows a visual.

 Verify the freshness of your seeds. Do not buy seed past its “Sell Buy” date or older than 9 months since last tested for vitality. All plants and seeds sold at Watters Garden Center are organic and never genetically altered.

My Favorite Sweet Pea

One of the most romantic of all flowers is the sweet pea with its delicatea butterfly blooms and spicy fragrance of wild honey and orange blossoms.

Sweet peas like the cooler weather of Northern Arizona. Sow seed outdoors as soon as the soil is workable. Don’t stress if the weather turns cold. The flowers last into summer. A thick layer of Watters Premium Mulch keeps roots cool and extend bloom times.

Soak your seed in water 24 hours before planting for faster germination. You can also start seedlings indoors in a cool place six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Before transplanting, pinch off any flower buds to encourage roots.

The best location offers full sun with late afternoon shade, rich soil and good air circulation. Sweet peas scramble up all manner of fences, trellises and arbors. Supports should be small enough in diameter for the tendrils to quickly wrap around.

 Sweet peas are used like clematis to trail through landscape shrubs when out of bloom as a beautiful floral combo that spices up dull landscapes. Since sweet peas are annuals, they won’t accumulate a mass of vines from year to year to overwhelm their shrub host. They grow well alongside woody vines to extend bloom times of wisteria, trumpet vine, and 5-leaf akebia.

They make excellent, long-lasting cut flowers. Regularly cutting only encourages more blooms to set.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road, Prescott, or at

There is a lot of information on a seed packet, such as: 

  • When it blooms
  • How much sun needed
  • How big it gets
  • Number of days to harvest

Photo: Watters Garden Center