The strawberries are doing really well in the polytunnel already. Looking at increasing production of this wonderful fruit for next year too.
Setting up the Strawberry Barrel
I’ve set up the strawberry barrel in the polytunnel. 28 plants in a couple of square feet, which is good use of space. To fill the barrel, I mixed multi-purpose compost with perlite, about 3:1 mix, to make a very light and root friendly growing medium.
To water more easily I replaced the existing central watering pipe, which was made from a piece of rainwater downpipe with holes drilled in. The replacement is a piece of permeable land drainage pipe I happened to have lying about. I’ve added small stones and gravel to the pipe, coming about half way up. The idea is to slow the water lower down so the whole barrel is properly irrigated.
Last year I’d potted up a load of strawberry runners in 3 ½ inch pots. Some were actually fruiting and most were getting to be pot-bound. Carefully teased the roots out to encourage them to spread out as I planted.
Each layer of strawberries went in and then more compost mix was added and firmed. Finally 4 plants went in the top and the barrel was given a thorough watering. I’ll start feeding in a couple of weeks when the compost fertiliser is running out of steam.
I actually ran out of potted up runners – a bit of a miscount. Well I do get confused when I’ve run out of fingers and toes. Luckily there were quite a few runners that had set roots that I came across when I tidied up and weeded the bed. These went into water to hold them until potting up.
There’s a few of the pockets on the barrel which have these runners planted in. They are looking a little sorry for themselves but I think they’ll be OK. If not, I can easily re-plant later as they’re high up the barrel.
Harvested a couple of kilos of strawberries from the hanging baskets and from the plants below the cherry tree. Probably ate half a pound whilst I was doing it. They’re just so wonderful and sweet straight from the plant. The scent alone makes your mouth water. Val froze half for jamming later and we had strawberries and cream that evening as a dessert. Looks like the same again tonight too!
Now you don’t get owt for nowt so I’m fertilising last year’s baskets, which are the ones producing well this year. They’re getting a litre of Nutrigrow mix per basket per week. The newly planted baskets will get a litre per fortnight from next month when the nutrients in the planting compost start to run down.
Exception Proves the Rule!
To grow good strawberries you need to provide water, nutrients and warmth. So why have I got a self-seeded strawberry growing quite happily and about to fruit in a crack in a concrete path? Nature is amazing!