SUMPTIOUS ORGANIC STRAWBERRIES

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Dear Organic Gardening Friends and Colleagues,

It’s June and finally summer’s lease is really here! Schools out, and minds turn to sport, barbecues, friends and hanging out outside soaking up some sun……..

What better to top all that than luscious, sumptious, nutrition-packed organic strawberries? All that Vitamin C! Fabulous to eat and easy to grow your own – here’s a potted primer.

Generally strawberries are propagated from plantlets that form at the ends of the runners that sprout from existing plants. These are then rooted in the ground and later planted on either in a pot or elsewhere.

Strawberries thrive in rich organic soil, though they are very forgiving and can do well in wide varieties of terrain. Generally they come into their own in their second year onwards, so plant for the first time in late summer. This gives them a chance to establish and produce top crops the following couple of years. After that dig up and replace with runners from plants that have produced their first crop. This keeps your strawberries at their vibrant best and helps prevent disease.

Space your plants at intervals of around 18 to 24 inches. These can be in rows or groups, keeping the base at ground level. Keep the ground moist but not overwatered as your fruits will lose texture and flavour and too high humidity will result in mouldy botrytis. Use good organic compost or fertiliser to ensure a good, flavourful harvest.

Once the fruits have formed keep them off the ground to protect them from slugs and rot. You’ll need to keep them under nets too to save them for yourselves as birds are also drawn irresistibly to these totally delicious berries!

Favourite types include ‘Eve’s Delight’, ‘Alexandria’ and ‘Mignonette’ as well as the larger ‘Late Pine’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Jubilee’, ‘Ava’, ‘Keens Imperial’ and ‘Royal Sovereign’. Later best choices are ‘Aromel’, ‘English Rose’ and ‘Mara des Bois’.

After you’ve picked your last prepare for next year by cutting off the foliage leaving about 3 inches over the crown. This ensures that most energy will go into the roots giving a headstart for spring’s return.

Anyone for strawberries? Warm from the sun, add a little cream……. Aaah, it’s really summer!!!

Wishing you every delight,

Till soon – love the organic life you live!

Arabella May Biddle

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