I finally got to the last BIG task on my list. The strawberries. The sun was shining, I got my inside jobs done early and I was out in that garden so fast, ready and willing to get stuck into a big job. And it is a big job – I have about 70 or so strawberries that haven’t even so much as been looked at since they stopped giving us a regular supply of yummy sweet berries last summer. The only attention they really got was being mowed around, so there were no runners sneaking off beyond the edges of the patch.
So I stood at the end of my long bed… thirty footsteps heel to toe in my gumboots, and thought – oh my goodness where do I start. Then I remembered that you should really chuck out strawberry plants after three years as they don’t do as well in their later years. There was nothing for it but to dig them out. They had grown quite big and heavy and although I don’t really like waste and throwing out perfectly good things, these did look a bit tired. The up side was there were loads of new plants formed from the runners and they were strong and healthy and looked fantastic.
In the first third I dug out 24 old plants and oodles of new plants. I cleaned up all the new ones and selected the best to go back into the patch. They looked so little compared to the grand old matriarchs that had just been evicted, and there were so many. I couldn’t help myself. I put 28 plants back into the bed.
The biggest problem I found with this whole process was my precious dirt. With each plant I pulled out, along with it came a big clump of my soil. I can’t really afford to lose dirt as it would drop the level of the bed below the water table. While this is ok at the moment, because we haven’t had rain in ages, the first descent rain would render my strawberry patch an underwater garden. So I shook each and every plant within an inch of its life and made it give up my soil and a considerable number of my worms too. Maybe I should consider turning my patch into a raised bed.
I put the reclaimed soil back into the bed, enriched it with loads of goodies so the plants will reward me with big fat sweet berries, and put the new plants it. So the patch is back to how it should be – refreshed and weed free and ready for the spring. Well a third of it is. I need to get on with the rest as there is rain on the forecast after weeks of none and as much I would welcome the rain as I almost need to get the hose out, I really don’t want to be weeding strawberries in the rain.
Come again soon – it’s nearly Assembly August and I love building things!
Sarah the Gardener : o )