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Let's Share our Favorite Soft Fruits

By dave
June 7, 2014

Welcome to Soft Fruits week! Blackerries, raspberries, strawberries and more. What are you growing, and which cultivars do you think everyone else should grow?

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Name: John
St.Osyth Nr Clacton on Sea. E
Region: United Kingdom Hybridizer Garden Ideas: Master Level Ferns Butterflies Salvias
Hostas Heucheras Clematis Birds Bee Lover Daylilies
Jun 7, 2014 2:56 AM CST
This is a little article I wrote many moons ago for our local garden club. Probably what everyone already knows, but here goes anyway. Over the next couple of weeks we won’t need reminding that the strawberry season is well and truly here. It starts the same time as the Wimbledon fortnight, and rarely passes without a large amount of rain. But if we're lucky enough to have prolonged periods of dry, sunny weather this year, and you grow strawberries, you'll need to get out into your garden with your hose, or if we have another ban your watering can. It’s best to water in the morning, applying a high potash feed, such as tomato food, according to the manufacturer's instructions, as you go. By watering early in the day, before temperatures get too high, all the water will go to the plants rather than being lost to evaporation under the sun. It's best that you don't wet any of the flowers or fruits as they can quickly be affected by grey mould (botrytis) which will spread to other fruit if not spotted in time. If your strawberries are in the ground you should put straw down before the fruit comes into contact with the soil. This will keep them clean and also lessens the risk of rotting and be attacked slugs. Barley or wheat straw will do. Place handfuls around and under plants. Strawberry mats are an alternative if you can't find straw or think it's too messy. I often put articles about encouraging wildlife into the garden but you don’t want to share your strawberries with them. You can use nets to keep off the birds, and either use slug traps, go out on an evening slug hunt or scatter pellets thinly between rows to divert these pests. Pick fruit when ripe, making sure you remove all the old ones because they'll quickly rot. As soon as your plants have finished fruiting most will start to produce lots of runners. As the runners grow, peg them down into the soil or pots of compost and you'll have plenty of new plants to increase your stock.
[Last edited by midnight21 - Jun 7, 2014 7:12 AM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
Jun 7, 2014 8:57 AM CST
Timely reminders, John. I grow a small patch next to a rhubarb in my herb garden and call this section my pie corner. I'm currently working on making a pi symbol out of driftwood for this bed.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Irises Amaryllis Bromeliad Brugmansias Master Gardener: Florida
Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Birds Orchids Herbs Region: Florida
Jun 7, 2014 8:57 AM CST
Lovely, John. Thanks for sharing. We had a question in the Ask a Question forum last week from a lady who was, indeed, letting her strawberries sit on the ground . . . and wondering what was eating them. I forgot about the wonderful history, that putting straw under the plants keeps the berries clean, and that's why they were named 'Strawberries' in the first place.

I've tried in vain to grow strawberries here in Florida. Our harvest season is February into March and amongst the bugs, slugs, critters and birds I hardly ever saw a berry I could eat myself. Fact is, they are an annual here, as they rarely survive the brutal sauna of summer weather we have. It just was not worth it.

This spring I have planted 'Frais de Bois' in my daughter's garden in Salt Lake City. Years ago when she was growing up and we lived there I grew them with some success, but of course discovered that the berries are so small, and not exactly abundant that you need a lot of plants to produce any reasonable amount. I probably had 20 plants and a family of 4, so the 'early bird' got the little handful of delicious berries to put on their morning cereal. They do make very attractive, neat little plants with no runners, and are everbearing so the meager supply of fabulous fruit lasts through the summer.

I will be flying back there next week, so will get to see how the new plants are doing.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: John
St.Osyth Nr Clacton on Sea. E
Region: United Kingdom Hybridizer Garden Ideas: Master Level Ferns Butterflies Salvias
Hostas Heucheras Clematis Birds Bee Lover Daylilies
Jun 7, 2014 10:46 AM CST
Hello Ladies I tip my hat to you.

I have asked one of our gents who grows fantastic strawberries if he could name some he would recommend. Don't know if they are available in your areas, but he said "Elegance", "Malling opal", "Cambridge Favourite" and "Florence". All are large, and tasty. HTH.

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