From Squash to Strawberries

I really should keep up better with my diary but the truth is I’m tired when I come in at night and don’t feel like going on the computer. In the morning I’m rushing through what I have to so I can get outside in the afternoon.

So more a flavour of the highlights since my last diary post.

Preparing for squash

The new squash and pumpkin patch

As I’m consolidating and reducing my growing area, the squash and pumpkins will be going in the orchard area this year.

We took a good cut of comfrey that was laid on the mown grass and covered with cardboard. Then the weed membrane from the field plot was laid over that. It’s going to be a few weeks before planting when I’ll have to dig out the planting holes and fill with compost.

Runner beans

3 complete blanks and a poor showing in the rest.

I’m afraid the germination of the Emergo runners in pots has been very poor. Still, we’ve a lot of climbing French beans coming on nicely in the polytunnel and we’ve still got runners from last year in the freezer so we won’t need many this year.

The Cobra French beans are showing nicely in the polytunnel.

Sweetcorn to Plant

An interesting result with my sweetcorn. The pack said 35 seeds but actually had 42 in the pack. All appeared to germinate. Most produce two shoots but some only one, not everything in nature works like a perfect machine.

All had a germinated seed but 12 blanks and 2 tiny shoots only.

Sowed all of them, the seeds with one shoot might just be slow after all. Now I’ve 18 plants that look good, 10 that are OK if a little small, 2 tiny shoots that I wouldn’t bother planting and 12 with nothing showing at all.

Those that don’t go in the polytunnel will go in a block in the veg plot even though they won’t do as well, perhaps just a cob apiece.

Gooseberry sawfly

Jostaberry – Gooseberry Sawfly Damage to leaves

I haven’t got any gooseberries but I’ve a couple of jostaberries and noticed some of the leaves were reduced to skeletons. The culprit was the gooseberry sawfly caterpillars. If not stopped these devils can strip the leaves from the entire bush in short order, which means little to no berries.

Gooseberry Sawfly

Gooseberry Sawfly

Out with the bug spray and a few seconds later it was raining dying caterpillars. I don’t like using pesticides but left to it we’d have no jostaberries this year. The spray’s active ingredient is Deltamethrin, which is a pyrethroid of low toxicity to people. I sprayed in the evening to avoid any bees but the bush isn’t in flower so probably I was being overly cautious.



Last but definitely not least – the strawberries are ripening. Get the cream!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
13 comments on “From Squash to Strawberries
  1. Snowdrops says:

    Exciting when those strawberries start to ripen, I had my first harvest 4 days ago, the earliest I’ve ever managed, so I was quite pleased

  2. Sally says:

    Can you tell me, is it important to put straw around the bottom of the strawberries and if so why?
    Are your strawberries inside or outside?
    Thank you from a new strawberry grower!

    • John Harrison says:

      Straw was used to keep the berries off the soil and hopefully reduce slug damage. At the end of the season when the strawberries were dormant and leaves dry it was set fire to. The fast fire killed off pests. I grow mine in hanging baskets in the polytunnel (no fires in there, thank you!)
      Check this page out: How to Grow Strawberries

      • mish says:

        Next best to straw is shredded newspaper. I first tried with office paper shreddings, but the usual 80gsm copy/printer paper is quite stiff and abrasive in 2mm strips. So I use ordinary newsprint which is much softer and easier to use and place under the fruit. I tear the newspapers up into roughly A4 size which is then easy to separate and handle once shredded.

  3. Rodney Latchford says:

    John,what variety of strawberry do u grow? your Emergo beans ,some have not emerged pardon the pun,i think French beans are more reliable overall,for me anyway. Good to have this warm weather,i am keeping my sweet pepper plant in my mini greenhouse so it can catchup on my outdoor toms.

  4. Bernard Tyson says:

    I`ve had problems starting of Emergo this year also, in Gwent

    • John Harrison says:

      Interesting – maybe not just me doing something wrong. Thanks Bernard

      • Peter Milburn says:

        Hi John.
        It seems your energy do not seem to fare well in your climate. I am an out & out Scarlet emperor fan, which I found to be unsuitable for our allotment in Brixham. However the Emergo have flourished and out of a packet of 33 I have only had two misfires, so I am looking forward to the end result this year. Peter

  5. Elizabeth Darby says:

    I’ve also had very poor germination of cobra beans, and sweetcorn. I’ve always had near 100% in every other year . Runner beans have only just gone in ! What a late year for everything.

  6. mish says:

    No, not noticeably so, perhaps because its part sheltered by the leaf canopy. But at this time of year things dry out very quickly anyway, the same for straw.

  7. Roy Hamilton says:

    My strawberries this season have been disappointing in terms of size and numbers
    I water and feed them regularly The plants look amazing and healthy and had 100,s of flowers – now they fruiting it’s all change the crop is not the volume the show of flowers post fruiting suggested – the fruits although very favourable are very small most just a bit bigger than a pea
    Any suggestions
    Also looking to renew stock on one of my beds any recommendations for a good variety for allotments which are heavy croppers with good size and flavour

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