Last chance for free sweet peas |

Last chance for free sweet peas

Ramona and Jim Markalunas have been distributing sweet pea seeds for at least 25 years. This year, however, will be the last they will give the seeds away. The sweet pea, the official flower of Aspen, is not for eating. People must plant the seeds before May 20, and the flowers begin blooming in late June. Sweet peas come in a variety of colors and generally have five petals. They keep blooming all the way through to the first frost. “The old-timers all planted sweet peas,” Ramona said. “There was no place you could get sweet peas. When I came here you had to get it from one of them.”For the past 25 years, she and her husband have continued the tradition, and they have met many people through it. She said she would be happy to deliver seeds to people who want them. There are also free packages of seeds at The Aspen Times. Printed on the packages are instructions for planting. Basically, soak the seeds for 48 hours, plant them, and plants should pop up a month later.Evidently there is a perennial sweet pea, which grows like a bush, but Ramona says it doesn’t smell as good as the annuals. Sweet peas need a fence or a trellis to grow on. The bigger ones can grow to be about an inch around and up to 4 feet tall. “I really encourage people to get the seeds, get them soaked and get them planted,” Ramona said. “The sweet peas can’t possibly come up if they don’t.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is

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