Friday, 27 March 2009
Saturday, 6 September 2008
The great thing in growing strawberries is to look well ahead and to make early preparation for the next year's crop. Some gardeners treat the growing of Strawberry plants as annuals; that is to say, they pull them up after they have produced one crop of berries.
Most Strawberry Gardeners take two crops of fruit before destroying the plants; others leave them for the third season. We have at times cropped the late fruiting variety called La Sans Revival over five years. These Strawberry Plants bare fruit from early December until late January and are very hard to find nowadays.
The plants are set out in buckets and placed high up in a Spanish tunnel late in October and are ready to crop at Christmas time, as you are probably aware fresh produced Strawberries will command a high price at the local market.
Any longer in the cropping of the mid-season crop varieties will reduce the size of the berries, this is not a loss because the fruit is ideal for preserving.
Taking Strawberry Plant Runners, for any gardener new to Strawberry Growing, a Strawberry Runner is a small plantlet that will shoot out of the centre of the mother plant on a long stem. This stem will at times produce up to ten plantlets, these plantlets can be pegged down, or pushed into the soil where they will root and produce another young plant.
(We will go more into collecting runners next month). Runners are your next batch of plants for cropping. The constant succession of good quality Strawberries can only be kept up by preparing a fresh stock of young plants every year, since the Strawberry is at its best under ordinary cultivation in its second year.
However, this is not to say that those who make a fresh plantation only every second year will not have good results. A method that is strongly recommended is this; Plant the Strawberry Plants in September in rows 18 inches apart, putting each plant 9 inches from its neighbour.
There will be a fair crop from each plant the following season, but if all the plants were allowed to remain for another year they would be much to crowed.
The plan therefore, is to dig out every other plant in the row, this will leave the remaining plants 18 inches apart, which is sufficient distance to allow between them. They may then be left for one to two seasons as the grower desires.
The plants should be removed after three seasons, do not try to force a fourth year, as the plants will be diseased and to woody to produce any decent crop, plus the space the plants are taking up is needed for root crop (potato), this crop will open up the soil ready for the following years planting.
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About the Author
Trevor Dalley has been growing Fuchsias and Chrysanthemums for sale to the gardening public commercially for the last 40 years and is now ready to pass on money making knowledge to you the reader for free. http://gardendesignhelp.blogspot.com
Tuesday, 17 June 2008
Freshly Dug Runners
Either loosely packed in plastic bags or properly potted up, they are usually sold in late autumn and early spring, depending on the severity of the weather.
Cold Stored Runners
Dug in winter, with their leaves trimmed off and then stored in the cold to be taken out for sale from spring to late summer. They will not establish well if planted later than this.
Potted Up Cold Stored Runners
These offer the most versatile option as they have been potted up by the nursery and grown on in a greenhouse for planting from mid-summer until autumn. They will cost more than bare rooted runners but are much more dependable.
Experience has shown that all pot grown plants establish best if they are in bio-degradable pots which are then planted entire, allowing you to avoid the root disturbance that strawberries resent. The best nurseries will always pot up routinely in this way.
About one week before planting, scatter Growmore or fish, blood and bone over the bed at 68g per square metre (2oz per square yard) and rake it into the surface. Plant pot grown or bare rooted runners with a trowel and firm them in very thoroughly, ensuring that the roots are all covered and that the crown is on the soil surface, not protruding. Water thoroughly after planting.
There is a good deal of nonsense talked about the need to remove the flowers from strawberries in the first year. This is only necessary or worthwhile if they have been planted as bare rooted cold stored runners. Pot grown plants, put into a well manured and fertilized soil will be perfectly strong enough to crop as soon as they are ready.
Visit the Strawberry Store for a great selection of seeds and plants.
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Growing strawberries in containers is not difficult, in fact there are very few garden plants that can't be grown in containers, although soft fruit generally do not make successful subjects. This is because most types are fairly shallowly rooted and therefore prone to drying out. Any plant in a container will suffer more easily from water shortage than one in the open garden, and water shortage in a fruiting plant means poor quality fruit. All of these factors can lead to problems, but if you are prepared to devote more than the normal amount of attention to watering and plant initially with care, then it is possible to obtain modest crops of soft fruit, even on a paved area by someone with no real garden.
Because of their small size, strawberries are the most amenable of soft fruit to container cultivation. You can either use a strawberry tub, made of terracotta or plastic and with holes in the sides, or alternatively an open wooden half-barrel or similar sized vessel. They are a fairly attractive option for someone who otherwise has no room to grow strawberries, but they are far from ideal. A great deal of good soil based compost will be required and the crop will inevitably be fairly small because most of the runners must be removed and the plants placed close together, so restricting them in size. Watering will be a necessary and continuing chore and you may well have poor ripening. This is because half of the container will almost inevitably face away from the sun, unless it is small enough to be turned regularly. It will also be necessary to help the pollination process by dusting over the open flowers with a soft paint brush. With relatively few plants you must ensure that as many flowers as possible set fruit.
One of the most interesting developments in container raising of soft fruit in recent years has been to grow strawberries in long containers above head height in greenhouses, so that the fruit hangs down for ease of picking. Commercially, various systems have been adopted, including the use of growing bags of soilless compost and wide diameter sections of plastic gutter pipe into which drainage holes have been drilled. Any system of this type does depend on having strong shelves to support the containers and ideally, on installing some system of automated irrigation and provision of liquid feed. This is probable not a technique suitable for every garden, but a gardener with a large, more or less redundant greenhouse could make excellent use of the facility and could extend the strawberry cropping season considerably by using day-neutral varieties such as Selva, Fern, Tribute and Tristar. These will crop all year round if temperatures are adequate as they are not dependant, like the more familiar and older varieties, on the long days of summer for flowering to commence.
Visit the Strawberry Store for a great selection of Containers and Planters.
Saturday, 24 May 2008
I know that I share many other gardeners' sentiments in saying that I simply couldn't grow soft fruit without proper protection. At a pinch, canes and bushes can be protected by throwing loose netting over them, but this rarely very satisfactory and I have to say that my own considerable investment in plants and time would be wasted without the added cost of a decent cage. There are now several proprietary fruit cages available in fairly readily assembled kit form. Most comprise a light tubular aluminium frame over which lightweight plastic netting is fitted.
Modern modular construction means that almost any size of cage can be constructed to fit your own range of plants. Alternatively, a more robust cage can be made from rustic poles of treated timber, if preferred.
The netting should be chosen carefully and be of a mesh size that excludes small birds and yet be unlikely to trap their legs. The ideal mesh is between about 0.5in (1.3cm) and 0.75in (2cm) across. The side netting on proprietary fruit cages is usually plastic but galvanised chicken wire makes a stronger construction for cages with wooden frames. Galvanised wire should not be for the top netting, however. Not only is it harder to support than lightweight plastic, but damage to fruit plants will occur from zinc washed from the netting by rain. Lower cages of similar style, about 12in (30cm) tall can be used for strawberry beds, although growing early strawberries under cloches obviates the need for any additional protection.