Monday, October 25

New strawberries for next year?

The main activity on the plot at the moment is tidying and clearing. One area - the strawberry beds was in desperate need of tidying although you really need to see what the beds were like before my efforts at tidying up to appreciate how much better they look so here is the 'before' photograph complete with a self sown buddleia plant.
And here is what they look like now:
You may still be able to spot the buddleia in the second bed - I haven't decided what to do with it yet. The new bed will be prepared over winter and the old beds kept going next year until the new plants are producing well. At the moment the 'new strawberry bed' looks like this.
The existing strawberry beds have been in place for over three years and so we thought it was time to create a new bed. We have ordered four varieties, Marshmello (which we know is good main variety), Marshmarvel (a new early variety), Amelia (a late variety) and Finesse (a new everbearing variety).
These along with our alpines should give us a long picking season. We have sown new alpine strawberry seeds this year - we grow new plants every year -and the young plants are growing on in a nursery bed. We have found that alpine's need replacing fairly regularly and they are easily grown from seed - in fact some of the newly grown plants have already produced one or two berries and there are also a few self sown seedlings amongst this years plants. The variety is Mignonette which seems to be the easiest variety to find.
The alpines were still flowering up to this weekend but I guess the frost (yes it has reached us now!) of Sunday night has blackened the flowers and put paid to any more fruits.

We could have propagated Marshmello from runners taken from our old strawberry plants but we made the mistake of growing different varieties too close together and consequently it is difficult to tell which variety the runners have come from.

We’ll be more careful in future but it is a good to buy new stock from time to time. (Click here for more information on how we propagate and grow our strawberries).

I had considered planting the strawberries through weed suppressant membrane as the straw seems to encourage lots of weed growth but I have a few concerns such as -
  • Would it harbour more slugs?
  • How do I feed the plants?
  • Does the soil become sour?
  • Is it harder to weed once the weeds grow probably alongside the plants through the planting hole
As you can see lots of doubts so it's likely that it will be back to straw unless anyone has another idea about a suitable mulch!

Last week's diary entry is now posted on my website here and a photo album of our allotment taken last week is here


16 comments:

  1. I wish I could have more space to grow many variety of strawberries like you do :).

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  2. Hello MKG - Just hope we have chosen the varieties well.

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  3. Your before photo looks very similar to my strawberry bed, I really need to put some work in on it. I haven't ordered any strawberries for next year yet, the bed I've got will last another year or two, but I want to get some everbearers for next year. One thing I'll do differently when I start a new bed is make sure I know which variety are which, I have three varieties at the moment but I don't know which are which.

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  4. Exactly the same problem as me Jo - we seem to be going along parallel lines!

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  5. Any pro's/con's to everbearing varities? can't say I know a lot about them. Does it mean you get a long season of strawbs.

    I wouldn't mind going to a show to taste different strawbs if anyone knows of any. I believe the oldn's are the bestn's?

    Like cambridge favourite for example, but disease resistance isn't particularly good these days.

    The commercial varities in the shops now are foul unless you add sugar and cream to them.

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  6. I've stalled on my fourth variety. I took the last batch to the plot two weeks ago and still not planted them out! (Hope the frost hasn't damaged the roots) I now have one old and three new patches so as to keep them apart.

    Are Marshmello all they're cracked up to be, Sue? I guess they must be if you are buying more.

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  7. I have a bed of Marshmello, Veg Heaven kindly gave me over a dozen runners at the beginning of the year. As new plants they were not prolific this summer but they were delicious. The plants are growing exceptionally strongly and if I had allowed all the runners to set I would now have more plants than I'd know what to do with.

    (they are in a raised bed with a mix of clay/loam soil & rotted cow manure)

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  8. Hi Craig - We added an everbearing variety just to try for some later berries. I don't think they have a period when they produce lots of berries but just produce a few for an extended period. If I was onlt growing one variety I guess I wouldn't buy them but as we will have four other varieties it was worth trying. Don't know what this variety will be like.

    We really like Marshmello Mal, big juicy tasty berries and lots of them. Our strawberries are likely to spend winter potted up in the cold greenhouse and planted our next spring as the bed isn't ready - we have done this before.

    Hi BW - We would have used runners from our Marshmello if I could have been sure which were which - as you say they produce masses of runners - I'm sure that you'll find that they will produce loads of berries next year. This is why we will keep our old beds for at least next year.

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  9. Wow, so many plants. I can imagine how many strawberries you get from those. I can only dream of having as many with my little strawberry bucket.
    Wish you the best luck with your new bed and your new varieties.

    I highly recommend ever bearings, mines gave me many good surprises.

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  10. Glad to hear that you recommend the everbearers ~fer Must admit we do like our strawberries

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  11. That's a tricky one about the membrane. I have been tempted to try using it because it might cut down on the weeding. It just doesn't seem right to me.

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  12. My thoughts too Matron - I noticed that they were using it on Gardeners' World but I'm just not convinced.

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  13. I want plant such kind of flower!

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  14. Your spruced up strawberry beds look great. If you have a bad slug problem I'd be wary of the weed sheets, although straw isn't a lot better. Good luck.

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  15. Well your strawberry bed looks fantastic....I don't have one of my own as Kate grows enough for the street...lol, however I do have a strawberry pot in the garden. I have know idea what variety we grow as they were given to us but we get berries off them from may until october so I can't complain. I have seen some people put carpet runners round their strawberries and of course the usual straw but most people down our allotment don't bother with anything!

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  16. Hi Barbara, I wouldn't say our slug problem was worse that anyone elses - we do have lots of amphiblians on the site which helps and last year one or two never seemed to stray far from the strawberry beds. I am wary of the sheets though - so far no-one seems to use them.

    Carpet runners Tanya?

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