Plant now for strawberry heaven next summer
I know it seems strange to speak of strawberries – that quintessential summer fruit – in deep autumn. But indulge me, as this is actually the perfect time of year to create your own little patch of strawberries or to revitalize an existing field by replacing tired old plants with vigorous, disease-free specimens.
Do this in the coming weeks while the soil is still warm but dampened by recent rains and you will ensure that your seedlings have enough time to properly establish strong, healthy and resilient root systems which will result in a harvest. very generous with their candy. , juicy berries next summer.
Also forget the idea that strawberries from the vegetable garden are a crop reserved only at the beginning of summer. By cultivating a blend of carefully selected strawberry varieties to extend the harvest season well beyond its traditionally short window, you can enjoy the very special pleasure of your own country fruit from June until the first severe frosts of the fall.
The list of reliable, productive, disease resistant, tasty and garden-worthy varieties is long and includes early crop types such as ‘gariguette’; “Christine”; “Rosie”; ‘Emilie’; “Alice”; ‘Hooneoye’ and ‘Malling Centenary’ which produce their berries in one generous harvest over several weeks from late May / mid-June; mid-season varieties such as “Elegance”; “Cambridge Favorite” and “Sonata”; and late varieties such as ‘Florence’; ‘Symphony’ and ‘Malwina’ which can be harvested until the end of July. Apart from that, there are also so called repeat varieties such as ‘Albion’; ‘Mara des Bois’; Flamenco ‘and alpine varieties with delicate berries, intensely flavorful and shade tolerant such as’ Alexandria’. All of these produce smaller harvests but have the great advantage of harvesting multiple times over several months from early summer to fall, making them a good choice for gardens or home gardens where the cultivation space is limited.
If you can offer your strawberries some form of protection in the form of a greenhouse, tunnel or bell, you can extend the harvest season even further, allowing you to enjoy delicious, locally grown strawberries as soon as possible. April until early November. . Growing under cover in this manner has several other benefits, including protecting these delicious, juicy berries from greedy birds and other strawberry-loving garden visitors such as foxes and badgers. It will also increase the size and quality of your strawberry crop by protecting it from disease and damage from adverse weather conditions. Just make sure pollinating insects can access the flowers when they appear (no pollination means no fruit). You will also need to hand pollinate any flowers that appear before the pollinating insects emerge in the spring. For similar reasons, make sure that all covered grow spaces are well ventilated during the growing season, as temperatures that are too high will prevent flowering and thus negatively affect the plants’ ability to fruit well.
Whether you are growing your strawberry plants outdoors or under cover, in the ground or in a specially designed pot, tub, tub, planter or strawberry planter, there are a few other care details. important to keep in mind. Among these is first and foremost the careful selection of the site and the preparation of the soil, both of which are the key to success. To truly thrive, these greedy plants require an airy but sheltered place in full sun and sheltered from frost pockets and strong winds, as well as a weed-free, fertile, humus-rich plant, retaining the moisture but very draining (and ideally slightly acidic) soil. For best results, these should be generously enriched with homemade garden compost or well-rotted manure a few weeks before planting. To reduce the risk of Verticillium wilt (a harmful fungal soil disease that can persist in the soil for many years), it is also best to avoid planting in soil where you have recently grown chrysanthemums, potatoes. , tomatoes or members of the cucurbit family such as cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. If this is of concern to you, grow in containers instead.
Strawberry plants are also vulnerable to grapevine weevil damage (classic signs include notching the edges of the leaves in a bill collector manner as well as sudden wilting and death of plants), so always check newly purchased potted plants for any signs of infestation and if you suspect established plants are being attacked then use timely biological control such as Nemasys. You will also need to protect the ripening plants and fruit from slugs during the growing season and protect outdoor crops to prevent the fruit from being eaten by birds and other visitors to the garden. Temporary mulch of straw around the base of the plants will help prevent ripe fruit from resting on wet soil (remove the straw after harvesting is complete).
To encourage truly healthy, vigorous and productive strawberry plants, give them organic granular feed and organic mulch in the spring, as well as regular liquid feed during the growing season (do this early in the day) and remove everything. dead or decaying foliage in autumn. As mentioned earlier, most types of strawberry plants inevitably lose vigor over time, becoming more prone to disease as they age. For this reason, it’s important to replace early, medium, and late varieties after their third year of cultivation, ideally planting them in a new location in your garden or subdivision if possible. Perpetual / persistent types lose vigor even faster and should ideally be replaced every year, but Alpine types live longer and are much more self-sufficient, requiring little care.
In the case of the early, mid-season and late-season varieties, the young strawberry plants can be easily propagated as runners taken from healthy parent plants in late summer, while the seedlings of strawberries can be easily propagated as runners. Alpine type varieties such as the aforementioned Fragaria ‘Alexandria’ can be grown from spring or fall. -seed sown (see addicted to seeds.com). At this time of year, conventional pot-grown plants and dormant bare-rooted strawberries are also available for purchase at most good Irish garden centers and nurseries, as well as for ordering online from reliable resellers. such as mmiddleton.com , futuresforests.fr and quickcrop.fr.
Bare root specimens should be planted in their permanent growing place as soon as possible after purchase, spacing plants 45cm, with 75cm between rows. For best results, soak their shriveled-looking roots in a bucket of lukewarm water for 30 minutes to rehydrate them, then spread them out in wide but shallow holes so that the crown (the part where the roots meet. the stem of the plant) is just at ground level (neither above nor below) before gently backfilling and then watering generously. Finish with a shallow protective layer of organic mulch around each plant, keeping it away from direct contact with the plant’s crown to prevent disease. If and when drought threatens (unlikely at this time of year), be sure to keep the plants watered. They won’t look like nothing until next year, when the warmer temperatures and increased light levels of spring will shatter their dormant buds, a sign that their deliciously decadent berries won’t be far behind.
This week in the garden
Continue to plant winter litter and spring flowering biennials such as winter flowering pansies, polyanthus, wallflowers, Canterbury bells, gentle William, foxgloves and honesty in their growing positions. final in the garden or the subdivision.
It is too easy to lose track of herbaceous or deciduous species of container-grown plants in the fall when the plants lose their foliage or die low to the ground, making it very difficult to identify them. The same goes for trays of cuttings and plants that are not labeled or mislabeled. So it’s a good idea to go through them quickly at this time of year, making sure to label plants freshly if necessary, always using a permanent waterproof pen to ensure the labels remain clearly legible.
Dates for your agenda
The Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland (RHSI) is running a competition inviting gardeners to share examples of how they have helped support biodiversity in their garden or housing estate. The closing date for registrations is Friday October 15, with a range of prices supported by HomeBase. Please email RHSI at email@example.com and be sure to include a photo with your application. See rhsi.ie for more details.