Potatoes and strawberries

The Rocket potatoes we planted as part of the workshop on 18 March are living up to their name. They have broken surface from the trenches in which the students so carefully set them. We planted them on a bed of combined comfrey, grass and friable soil. The comfrey has to be torn so that the ribs, stems and flowers aren’t included in the trench as the plant is invasive and it can definitely take over anywhere it gets a chance to put down roots. It’s an unmatched producer of plant-friendly nutrients though, and in conjunction with grass clippings which offer moisture and warmth, and friable soil that allows roots to push down strongly, it’s a winning combination for growing things like spuds.

So the potatoes are on their way, and that’s great news for those who like new potatoes – which we do, very much!

Strawberries are a different issue though. Our strawberries are in full flower, which is a little early on last year, but given this is their second (optimum) year in the bed, it’s a wonderful sign. The weather isn’t so wonderful though, and after strawing the berries to keep them lifted from the ground, I had a bit of a panic at the weather forecast and went back and put fleece over them to keep the air frost off.

There are differing views about early strawberries and frost. Some say that strawberries take it in their stride, others that it can deform and distort the growth pattern of the berry if it takes an air frost. I know that I like strawberries a lot and don’t like the ones that curl over and have tightly packed seeds which can taste bitter, so for ten minutes extra work, I was happy to get a simple cover over the bed to try and prevent that happening. Of course it’s a lot easier if you have your strawberries in a raised bed, as we do, to cover them, and that’s just one reason I always make a strawberry bed rather than have them in the ground alongside other crops. The other reasons are:

1. The extra height of the soil in the bed ensures that water runs down and away from the berries and water is a major contributor to strawberry mildew.
2. The soil in the bed can be controlled better – strawberries are greedy and need a lot of nutrients.
3. Watering is easier in a raised bed – I can give the plants extra water through bottle watering without losing most of it to the surrounding soil. Strawberries need a lot of water to grow well.
4. Slug and snail control is easier in a raised bed – whether I go for pellets, sand, barrier methods, salt or nematodes, I can use the bed to act as a boundary.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Blogger Stacy said...

my strawberrys are looking good too i moved mine into a raised bed over the winter and they seam to have loved the change they have repaid me with flowers galore

April 3, 2012 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Strawberries really do seem to like a raised bed, don't they?

April 6, 2012 at 7:10 AM  

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