Raspberries and Strawberries

 A warm sunny February day (maximum temperature 15 oC) and a few jobs to do in the garden.

First, check the HotBin composter temperatures. Doing nicely at 55 oC so add 6 litres of shredded garden waste, 2 litres of kitchen waste and 120 g of biochar. Mix. Check again tomorrow.

Second, the bare root raspberry plants from Thompson and Morgan arrived this morning. Three varieties (Glen Prosen, Glen Ample and Autumn Bliss) so we can pick delicious raspberries from June to October. Although only the autumn-fruiting variety (Autumn Bliss) have a chance to produce fruit this year.

I have some raspberries (Sugana and Polka) already but these were not looking as healthy as they normally do, so it's time to plant some more in a different location just in case. There was some space behind my apple and plum trees alongside a SE facing wall. I moved my comfrey tea set-up and a few odds and ends; later, I will add some horizontal wires to support the growing raspberry canes.

Today's job is to get the raspberry plants into the ground. Rake back the bark mulch, dig 6 x 6 x 6 inch holes. Fill with sieved garden compost. Plant bare-root plants so the roots are about 3 inches below the surface. Cover with a little of the excavated soil, firm soil around plants with boot and water in (3 litres per plant). Finally, replace the bark mulch, cut down the canes to 6-8 inches & add a label.

Third, time to clean up the strawberry plants in the Wonderwall planters. Strawberries are a great grow-it-yourself summer fruit crop because the flavour is always better than anything you can buy in the shops. Unfortunately, the great flavour also attracts birds, slugs, woodlouse and other pests who always seem to get there first, just as the fruit hits peak ripeness. I was hoping the Wonderwall wall planters would reduce some of the pest damage - however, it didn't take long for the blackbirds to find. I shall try to rig up some netting this year. I don't mind sharing but I think I deserve 80% of the yield since I've put in all the effort!

Some strawberry plants had died, others had become smothered in weeds (I suspect those blackbirds again). Take out the pots, extricate the rootball, remove any weeds along with some of the soil and repot using a coir potting compost. Replace and water.

Because some plants had perished, there are quite a few empty pots. Fortunately, there were plenty of strawberry runners hanging down. Normally, these would be pinned down in a soil-filled plant pot to root after the fruiting season has finished (i.e. late summer). I'm too late for this so I thought it worth a try placing the runners in a heated Hydropod propagator from Greenhouse Sensation. This misting propagator encourages root formation while minimising root rot and fungal infections. I haven't tried it with strawberries so we'll see how it goes.


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