New Allotment: Old Weeds and Exhausted Strawberries

Yet another lovely experience shared by many an allotment holder who takes over a plot that’s been neglected for a while is the sad realisation that to preserve what you’ve got might be a harder task than starting from scratch.

Last autumn we built a strawberry bed on 235 from salvaged wood and planted it with strawberry runners offered by lovely neighbours. We lost two of those runners over the winter (one was dug up by the fox, no idea why) and replaced them in April with plants that are flowering beautifully. What the crop will be like in year 1 is anybody’s guess, but it’s very easy to hoe between the plants and maintain the raised bed.

Then we move to 201, where the strawberry bed is said to be productive and to have very tasty fruit (at least neighbour-but-one Tracey tells us she had a good crop off them last summer, which is good to know, it would be horrible if they’d been wasted!) but which was so overgrown that I despaired. Today, after two intensive weeding sessions, I still despair, but more of ever being able to stand straight again than of the strawberries.
Essentially, to try and rescue the bed, I’m having to hand-weed this enormous bed, pulling out clumps of grass from between the plants, cutting tangles of runners that have obviously run riot for five years or more, taking out all the diseased leaves (and a few plants) and trying to get a bit of nourishment into the soil for this year.

I shall then take this year’s runners and stick them in pots over the winter, so that they can establish a root system before cutting them from the parent plant next spring, and then create a whole new bed somewhere else on the allotment where the soil is less exhausted.
And of course, the dear strawberries haven’t stayed in their bed – runners have travelled several yards away from their original home and even crossed the path and rooted on the other side of the plot!

Still, strawberries are worth it, aren’t they?

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Thursday, May 14, 2009


Anonymous jenjen said...

Yes, strawberries are worth it! We've got the same problem with our raspberries... grass and bindweed and everything, but they obviously were someone's pride and joy at some point. At least raspberries are taller, I guess, so the mulch and plastic solution makes it easier to see the bushes.

May 16, 2009 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Ah, that's a problem I haven't even got around to yet. We transplanted raspberries to a new bed so we don't expect much fruit this year. On the other hand, I know that we're going to struggle with stray raspberries coming up in the middle of other crops for many years to come ...

May 18, 2009 at 5:26 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Strawberries just seem to attract grass - right in the middle of the plant. And it's amazing how far the stray raspberries can get.

May 18, 2009 at 6:09 AM  

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