Monday, June 11

Going red

At last I no longer need to look on enviously as other blogs proudly display photographs of the newly ripened strawberries that they have just harvested. Now we too have joined their ranks.
These berries are from Marshmarvel our earliest variety. It has been trying it's best to produce fruit since the beginning of April but the flowers kept falling foul of the cold weather which blackened the centres.

You may remember that last year we covered the strawberry bed (avoiding the plants of course) with a biodegradable mulch which we then covered with straw.
This was successful but the mulching fabric was very difficult to work with. Not only was it extremely lightweight but being thin and stretchy it wasn't easy to cut. So we had a rethink. We didn't want to just use straw as we have in the past. We have found that the straw still contains lots of seeds that are just dying to grow at the first opportunity and we have also previously suffered from weedy strawberry beds and don't want to go there again.

This year we've settled on using weed control fabric. So as not the damage the plants we cut the fabric into long strips to place between them - (sort of grid fashion).
The strips are held in place using old bricks.

We've also decided that we won't use any straw at all. To try to control the slugs we have watered the bed with slug nematodes, a biological control, that will need to be applied another twice during the season. The nematodes are posted out at appropriate times. It would be good to be able to treat the whole plot and garden with nematodes but this would prove far too expensive. We thought the strawberries and one or two other things were worth it.

So the weed and slug defences were in place that left the beady eyed birds who just see red as an invitation to dine. Before the first hint of red bird defences had to be in place before the berries turned. Net has been streched across the bed and also tucked under the brick.
The plants are producing lots and lots of berries so all we can do now is hope that our defences work! No doubt there will be some slugs and snails that bypass our defences so one tip that I read somewhere was not to remove any berries that have been slug nibbled. Apparently slugs and snails will retrace their movements back to a tasty meal and continue nibbling the spoiled berries whereas if it is removed they will move on to a new fruit. We've tried this and it does seem to work.

Strawberries weren't the only things turning red. The redcurrants were joining in and as always the blackbirds were on sentry duty looking out for the first sign of any redness. So much to their displeasure, which they demonstrated by chortling at us form the nearly trees, we have also netted these. We have used chicken wire near the ground, to hopefully prevent any birds trying to sneak under the wire from becoming trapped, and netting across the top.
We're feeling rather pessimistic about our prospective fruit harvest this year, hardly any plums (maybe in single figures), a handful of cherries, (if that - in spite of a mass of blossom) on top of which something is munching on the cherry tree leaves and the baby pear fruitlets have been jumping off the trees!

So we really do need to protect whatever manages to be produced!

29 comments:

  1. I still don't have any strawberries ready to harvest though some are starting to show signs of thinking about going red...hopefully it won't be too long now!!

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    1. These are one bought as an early variety Tanya - the later varieties haven't turned yet. Some sun would help things along!

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  2. There's no sign of my strawberries turning red yet, I've still got a while to wait.

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    1. As I said to tanya, they are early ones Jo and as such should really have fruited in may so they are late!

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  3. Your strawberries look great and the plants look loaded with developing berries. All your hard work looks like it will pay off. I've no strawberries this year. Maybe next year I'll have to change this.

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    1. Couldn't be strawberry-less Kelli!

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  4. The strawberries look fabulous - I wish I had the room for a lovely big plot like yours! Sorry that the other fruit might be a write off though.

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    1. I was looking forward to cherries and pears aftr all the blossom Liz but will just have to fill up the greezer with strawberries.

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    2. Meant after the blossom and freezer

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  5. Yes, my strawberries are still resolutely not ripe. Still eating Kentish strawbs from Tescos I'm afraid... Only 3 cherries ripening on the tree, however the tayberry plant is laden with berries so I'm happy about that!

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    1. Our tayberry is loaded too Jules and the raspberries look promising. I'm beginning to wonder if we'll ever have a bumper crop of cherries as the tree has only fruited well once in its I think four years of being planted.

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    2. Our tayberries are loaded too Jules and the raspberries look promising. I keep being disappointed by the cherry as so far only one of the four years in which it has been planted has it had a decent crop.

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  6. Hmm, yes, I see what you meant when you advised me in no uncertain terms to net my few (but precious) Strawberries. I shall have to work out a way of doing it, because mine are growing in a raised planter.
    What a shame those nematodes can't just multiply of their own accord and spread out to protect your whole plot. It seems such a shame to have to keep on buying them.

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    1. Can you make a free standing structure from chicken wire on a wooden framework that will slot over the bed or would that be too difficult to keep taking off. Alteratively a wooden frmaework with netting draped over it?

      I guess it's too cold for the nematodes to breed here - the ones we applied are probably all dead by now courtesy of this appalling weather.

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  7. Sorry UK Garden but it was a bit of a giveaway calling me Liz and also mistyping freezer just as I did in my reply to Liz. Your comments was a copy of my reply to Liz. Any comments just placed for advertising will be deleted.

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  8. Your outdoor strawberries are way ahead of mine. The only ones I have are in the greenhouse and I am harvesting every morning. At least we are getting something out of the garden - everything else seems to be taking an age to develop.

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    1. Many things are just at a standstill, Elaine we desparately need some warmth!

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  9. Yikes. I better get a move on. Early strawbs netted but redcurrants and later varieties still at risk!

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    1. As soon as there is any sign of red on the recurrants the birds will bthem' Mal so don't delay!

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  10. Congrats on getting fruit already Sue- can you request a bit more sunshine though so mine get a move on too! I've netted everything this year, I'm being stalked by greedy pigeons, they eaten crops in the time it takes to put the kettle on!

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    1. A bit of sunshine wouldn't go amiss here FRG. These strawberries are a month late (for the variety) so I guess the others won't be ripe 'til July!

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  11. Fruit already, congratulations! Pessimism here too about how much will grow/ripen this year.

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    1. Maybe we will have a nice surprise BW although I very much doubt it!

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  12. Hmm, weed control fabric around the strawberries. That's a good idea. Mine are all over the place and I think I need to lift them in the autumn and replant in straight lines. But in the menatime....!!!

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    1. The problem is stopping all the runners rooting which hopefully the weed control fabric will help with too, Woody

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  13. Mine are still green and the old hay I put around them has sprouted everywhere :( Going to try the fabric next year.

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  14. It seems I just homed in on the blogs that mentioned ripe strawberries, Debbie and thought everyone except me had them

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  15. The strawberries are cute and alluring, they must be very delicious I think!

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