Plant sum­mer straw­ber­ries

The Tribune (NZ) - - AL FRESCO | GARDENING - WALLY RICHARDS Prob­lems? Ringme at 0800 466464 (Palmer­ston North 3570606) Email wal­lyjr@gar­de­news.co.nz Web site www.gar­de­news.co.nz

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.

PHOTO: FAIR­FAX NZ

Make the most of your ex­ist­ing straw­berry patch – it’s time to lift, sep­a­rate and re­plant for sum­mer.

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