3 May 2009

Fruit update

Finally my potatoes and broad beans have made an appearance, the peas have so far escaped the attention of the slugs and/or pigeons and the weeds are largely being kept in check. However by far the best looking plants on the plots are the fruit plants and bushes. The early strawberries (Chelsea Pensioner) are coming into flower and the plants are looking better than they ever had - which is about time as it's their last year.

Given just how few strawberries I've managed to eat from these plants due to slugs, squirrels and the weather, this year I've started to assemble the defences early:

However, I did realise that if I put the netting over the top as well there wouldn't be many insects that would get through to pollinate the flowers... The wires also needs pegging down to stop the squirrels from getting underneath. Once the strawberries start to form I'll also be putting down some chilli powder as apparently this keeps the squirrels away, slug pellets to keep the slugs away with the mini polytunnels as back up against the usual British summer. And if that doesn't work I'm giving up growing strawberries.

The redcurrants are also looking good so I put some netting over them the other day. Due to the 'improvised' nature of this they're still vunerable to squirrel attack, so I'll be trying the chilli powder around them too.

Next to the redcurrant the gooseberry bush is doing really well (on plot no 1), however the two plants on plot no 2 are looking pretty crap and I fear it may be their last year there! I've no idea how old these plants are but hopefully I'll get some cuttings off the decent plant.

I also made some comfrey 'tea' to feed the strawberries. It will stink so I've covered it over with an old compost sack. The plants are doing really well and just about to flower so now I have a dilemma: do I cut them down now and let them re-grow or do I let the flower as the bees love the flowers?

Finally more tulips, struggling on through the weeds and mint.


Goldmember said...

Great looking fruit there Rob! Soft fruit must definitely be the major plus side to your northern climate. I have planted raspberries, red and black currants, three blueberries and a row of strawberries but will have to wait a year or two for any sizable harvest which is a little frustrating as the fruit section takes up a lot of space.

Anonymous said...

I know writers give strawberry beds only 3 years, but I always find mine are slow to take off and give much the best crops in years 5,6 and 7 - my present strawberry bed is on year 8 and looking better than ever - already set dozens of fruit - I only weed it and feed it ash from a wood (and paper) burning stove and pick off snails and slugs.

Why is the general advice for such a short life for the strawberry??

Danny (South East Sheffield)