I’m really determined to have some strawberries this year despite the blinking sheep who managed to get the strawberry barrel on the patio and eat half the plants to the root and give the rest a haircut. It looks like a total crop of one strawberry from it this year!
Unwins are offering cold-stored Vibrant strawberries that should crop this year so I invested in 20 plants. This gave me a problem of where to put them. Strawberries do like the sun so the south side of the house is the obvious place.
I’d got an 80cm trough and picked up another couple for just £7.00 from a discount shop in town giving three in all. They’re 20 cm wide and 20 cm deep.
To put them on, I built a rack using wood I’ve got knocking around. I tend to use quite a lot of treated 2×1 and rather than buying it from the DIY shed, I get it delivered from the builders merchants in bundles of 10 pieces, 3.6M long which is far cheaper at £1.99 a length including VAT.
The 2×1 is used to form the side supports but the shelves could easily be made from old pallets but I happened to have a plank 7” wide and 2.4M long so I used that for the shelves.
I used a 50mm screw and a pin in each joint to hold things tightly, pre-drilling before screwing to avoid splitting the wood. The shelves are staggered with an overlap of just 50mm to maximise light and a vertical space of 400mm giving 200mm above each trough.
The only problem I had, apart from constructing 2 left hand sides (D’OH!!), was getting the angle right for the base of the angled upright. I cut a length of scrap to length ‘A’ on the diagram and then used that to get the exact length and angle marked and cut.
Once it was constructed, I gave it a coat of shed protector. Not required really as the wood is tanalised but it looked better for it. Total cost for the racking, if I bought it all would be just about £12.00 plus £10.50 for the troughs – not too bad.
With strawberries, apart from sunshine, they need enough water to swell the fruits but they don’t like being too wet. In each trough I put a thin layer of gravel to help drainage through the knock-outs in the base and mixed some perlite into the multi-purpose compost to lighten it.
Once the troughs were placed on the rack, I realised there was a fair bit of side to side movement so quickly added a bar at the back angled down to the centre which firmed it up.
In hindsight, if I was making the rack again I’d reduce the middle support to 30cm and the base side to 40cm as they’ll still get plenty of light even with a 50% overhang. If pushed for space then a pure vertical should work as there is so much headspace over the troughs.
Into each trough I planted 4 strawberries, 12 in all leaving me 8 over which went 4 each into 15” tubs. Although this gives them a lot less area per plant, the tub is a lot deeper than the troughs so it will be interesting to see the results. The tubs are on the south wall as well,
As usual the Sungold have come in first and jolly nice they are too. There’s an awful lot developing though so I dare say we’ll be swamped with tomatoes soon enough.
I always feel summer has finally arrived with the first tomatoes but I do wish the weather agreed. It’s damp and chilly in the breeze here although lower down at sea-level it’s reasonably warm.
And finally, the spiky cactus in the front porch is about to flower. It’s thrown up two heads overnight and we’re looking forward to seeing it flower. They’re beautiful but sadly they only last a day or two.
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