Cultivating the strawberry patch – Diary of a Rocket Gardener

This weekend I am all about the strawberry patch. This is for 3 reasons – firstly, they have put out their runners in a big way and so need tending to. Secondly, I want to feed the soil as they were looking a little weary, and thirdly, I am being treated to a late flurry of strawberries so I’m enjoying picking strawberries as I work!

My strawberries are growing in a raised bed, approximately 1.5m x 2m. It’s the one bed that I haven’t really been treating as “no dig” in that I never topped it up with compost or anything when I planted it two years ago. I just dug it over and planted the strawberries.┬áThis year, I really noticed how much drier the soil was in this bed – I have quite a clay soil, and it was very dry and cracked on the surface. Several times the plants looked a little wilted, although they have hung in there. I’m keen to protect them for future though, so I am mulching with a good, thick layer of compost in between plants. Over time, I hope this will feed into the soil, and in the meantime the mulch should protect the plants from drought/waterlogging/frost.

The other job that I am doing is potting up the runners. The runners are shoot that come off the main plants with baby plants formed at intervals. These baby plants develop roots and put them into the soil naturally, but it’s good to be a bit more deliberate and train them into small pots of compost. This way I’ll avoid overcrowding and I can either give the new plants to friends and family, or replace old/unproductive plants. I have found it easier this year to wait until a few more roots had developed before trying to plant the runners into pots. It saves on needing to peg them down into the compost as they already have a few roots. I’ve learnt that you shouldn’t cut them away from their parent plant too early, as they need the extra nutrients/water until their roots are fully established in the pots. So, it’ll be a couple of weeks before I cut them free.

As I’ve been working on the strawberry patch, I noticed quite a few asparagus beetles – I’m not sure if they are nibbling at the strawberries, or simply clearing up after slugs that have eaten away at MY berries…. but I think they are one to watch out for, for sure! I wonder if anyone else has come across asparagus beetles on their strawberries?