Plant summer strawberries
Nothing says summer quite like strawberries. Now is the usual time of the year for planting them out.
In days gone by, the first garden shop to have new season strawberry plants would be swamped with customers.
20 odd years ago when I had a garden shop, we sold individual loose plants from sawdust trays, enabling people to pick the plants out for themselves.
For instance, according to a May 20, 1990 advert in The Tribune, 10 strawberry plants could be had for $2.70 or 25 plants for $6.50.
These days it will be hard to find loose plants for sale – instead they will be in pots or packs, and are often not available until later in the year when they will be in flower and fruit.
This makes the plants more expensive, and they will not perform as well as strawberry plants that are planted about now in home gardens or containers.
I grow strawberries in troughs on a fence where they are at a nice height to care for and pick.
The ideal place for a fence mounted trough is on the top rail of a corrugated iron fence, preferably facing south east, where the plants get morning sun. In the afternoon they get the heat radiated from the iron fence.
Strawberries in a trough tend to hang out over the edge making it more difficult for birds to get at the fruit.
If birds become a problem, some wire hoops made from #8 wire supporting bird netting will keep them away
The horrible weather in spring and into December last year gave strawberry plants a hard time. Their survival response to the unseasonable conditions was to produce lots of runners.
At this time, it’s a matter of lifting the plants, separating them, and looking for the best ones to replant.
After lifting, ensure the roots are kept moist – do not let them dry out.
Prepare the trough or traditional ground garden plot, by applying a layer of fresh purchased compost. Cover this with a light sprinkling of BioPhos, and a good sprinkling of Rok Solid, Neem Tree Powder, BioBoost or sheep manure pellets.
Chook manure and untreated sawdust can also be applied
Cover this with a further thick layer of purchased compost to plant into.
After planting, it’s time to mulch – a layer for the berries to sit on later. The best mulch is probably untreated sawdust. Despite being called strawberries, straw or pea straw can go mouldy as it breaks down, and could cause the berries to rot.
Spray the foliage with Mycorrcin mixed at 5 mls per litre using nonchlorinated water. Repeat this monthly till the plants start to show new season growth, then spray every two weeks. This will increase your crop by 200 to 400 per cent.
Every 6 – 8 weeks after the new season growth starts, sprinkle a side dressing of Wallys Secret Strawberry Food which will assist in growing bigger, juicier berries.
Make the most of your existing strawberry patch – it’s time to lift, separate and replant for summer.