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Wally Richards
Wally Richardshttp://www.gardenews.co.nz
Wally Richards has been a gardening columnist for over 30 years. Check his websites - for gardening news and tips visit www.gardenews.co.nz. For mail order products visit www.0800466464.co.nz. Wally also has a gardening problem help line on 0800 466 464.

Gardening with Wally Richards: Strawberries and Garlic

Strawberries and garlic news

New seasons strawberry plants are now available in garden centres.

The nurseries that grow the plants lift them after the autumn rains have moisten the soil sufficiently, then they are distributed to garden centres.

I find that the sooner you can get your new strawberry plants into their new beds the better results you have in the first season.

Like all things planted it is root establishment that is so important.

When planting place about a teaspoon of Unlocking Your Soil in the planting hole with a pinch of BioPhos for each strawberry plant.

Gardeners with existing beds of strawberries will likely have a number of runners that have rooted in nicely, these can be used for new season plants..

If the existing strawberry bed is not congested with old and new plants and there is ample room still for all the plants to grow and produce, then you can get away with not lifting the runners or only lifting those that are too close to existing plants.

Strawberries are easy to grow and can be grown in open ground or containers.

In open ground the most practical way is to make a bed with wood surrounds 16 to 20 cm tall and have a hinged frame over the bed that has either plastic bird netting or wire netting over the lid.

The whole frame needs to only sit on the soil so it can be moved if required.

If using tanalised timber for the surround then after cutting to size; paint all the wood with a couple of coats of acrylic paint to prevent chemicals leeching into the soil.

Strawberries can be grown in troughs about 16 to 20 cm wide and similar depth then as long as required. I like to hang these off the top rail of a fence.

Special strawberry planters made from clay or plastic are not very good and your results are likely to be poor. (Thats the types where plants are placed in holes around the container as well as on top.)

Polystyrene boxes with holes in the bottom are also ideal containers for good crops if they have a rooting depth of 15cm or more.

The growing medium should be a good compost such as Daltons or Oderings to which you can add untreated sawdust and a little clean top soil or vermicast. (Worm casts from a worm farm)

A mix of about 75% compost, 20% sawdust and 5% vermicast is good value.

Mix the above in a wheelbarrow then place a layer of the mix 5 cm deep in the base of the trough or container.

Now sprinkle a layer of chicken manure, some potash, BioPhos, Unlocking Your Soil and Ocean Solids. Horse manure is also very good.

If you do not have chicken manure available use sheep manure pellets and blood & bone.

Cover with more compost mix to a depth suitable for planting your new strawberry plants.

A similar process can be applied to a open bed with a frame, though the frame height may need to be taller than previously suggested.

Ensure that the soil at the base of the frame is free of most weeds and then place a layer or two of cardboard over the soil. This will help prevent weeds from coming up in the bed, then fill as suggested.

There are a number of different varieties of strawberry plants available to the home gardener, sometimes the older varieties such as Tioga and Redgaunlet (both are hard to come by now replaced with the newer varieties such as Chandler, Pajaro and Seascape.

Different varieties will do better or worse in different climates so choose the ones most suited to your area of the country.

Strawberry types include:

Strawberry Baby Pink ™ Producing stunning beautiful pink flowers followed by small to medium red fruit with sweet traditional flavour. Large bunches of berries ripening over a long period.

Habit – Compact strong growing strawberry. Size – Give these small to medium plants close spacing.

Pollination – Self-fertile. Unknown if short day, neutral or long day type.

Strawberry Camarosa: Large to very large medium dark red fruit. Firm medium red flesh with excellent flavour. Conical shape.

High resistance to wet weather. Habit – Suitable for Northern and Central districts. Vigorous growth habit.Size – Give these vigorous plants wide spacing.

Pollination – Self-fertile. Short day type – flowers are initiated by short day lengths.

Harvest – Fruit ripen 20-35 days from flowering depending on climate, with light crops in early summer, followed by a main crop in December – January. Yield is very good.

Strawberry Chandler: Small to very large medium red fruit. Firm light red flesh with very good flavour. Conical shape. High resistance to wet weather.

Habit – Suitable for Northern and Central districts. Multi-crowned growth habit.

Size – Give these multi crowned plants medium spacing. Pollination – Self-fertile. Short day type – flowers are initiated by short day lengths.

Harvest – Fruit ripen 20-35 days from flowering depending on climate, with light crops in early summer followed by a main crop in December – January. Yield is very good.

Strawberry Sundae ™: Large red fruit with excellent flavour. Firm red flesh in an oval shape.

Habit – Suitable for Northern and Central districts. Vigorous growth habit. Size – Give these vigorous plants wide spacing.Pollination – Self-fertile. Short day type – flowers are initiated by short day lengths.

Harvest – Fruit ripen 20-35 days from flowering depending on climate, with light crops in early summer followed by a main crop in December – January. Yield is average.

Strawberry Supreme ™: Very large bright red fruit. Very firm red flesh with excellent flavour. Conical shape. Good resistance to wet weather. Habit – Suitable for Northern and Central districts.

Moderately strong growth habit. Size – Give these small to medium sized plants close spacing.

Pollination – Self-fertile. Short day type – flowers are initiated by short day lengths.

Harvest – Fruit ripen 20-35 days from flowering depending on climate, with light crops in early summer followed by a main crop in December – January. Yield is very good.

Strawberry Temptation™: Medium bright red shiny fruit with excellent flavour. Pale firm flesh.

Habit – Compact strong growing strawberry. Tough and resilient in relation to pest and diseases.

Size – Give these medium plants close spacing.

Pollination – Self-fertile. Only NZ bred Day Neutral strawberry which means they will set fruit regardless of how long or short the days are making this an ideal fruiter national wide.

Will extend the North Island season. Harvest – Consistent high yields of berries ripening over a long period from October to March.

To enhance your strawberries and increase the crop yields by 200 to 400% drench the bed with Mycorrcin after planting and repeat again in a couple of months time.

Spray the plants with Mycorrcin every two weeks till end of season. Make up in a trigger sprayer it keeps so leave by strawberry bed and spray as required. MBL can be added to the spray.

For bigger berries you may like to try Wallys Secret Strawberry Food.


The traditional time of the year in NZ to plant garlic is on the shortest day and then harvest will be about on the longest day. (Can pay to leave till later in January as it may increase size of the bulbs.)

The reason for this is that after the shortest day of sun light hours, then each day there after, will have a little more sunlight every day until the 21st of December.

Or maybe its because it is something to do in the middle of winter along with planting of roses and deciduous fruit trees.

Shallots are also planted at this time.

Garlic has a number of health benefits along with it being a great condiment with food such as steak (garlic butter) and of course my favorite Garlic Bread.

I remember some years ago reading about soaking peeled garlic cloves in raw liquid honey.

What you did was place a small amount of runny honey into a small jar and then pack peeled cloves into the jar before topping up with honey as you filled.

Storing the jar in a warm place like a hot water cupboard (so the honey would stay liquid and not crystallize.

I think after been in store about 3 months you would eat one clove first thing in the morning for health and weight control.

Mr Goggle confirms this with : While we all use it as a food ingredient, it is also an effective medicine that helps in burning belly fat and detoxification. Research suggests that garlic can be effective in weight loss and is an inevitable part of a balanced diet.

Also the following:

Eating 4-5 garlic cloves in the morning can help to boost your immunity, which is essential now when we have entered the winter season.

It contains compounds that help the immune system fight free radicals and disease-causing foreign pathogens.

How long do you need to take garlic extract to start experiencing its benefits? Since some of the beneficial compounds in garlic extract are fat-soluble, it may take 1-2 weeks for this substance to deliver noticeable effects.

Garlic has been shown to reduce fat accumulation and fat weight in the liver, restore antioxidant activity in the liver, and reduce MDA levels in the liver.

Garlic has a good sulphur content so hence the reason for it helping to detox your body similar to taking MSM organic sulphur crystals on a twice daily bases.

There are eight forms of garlic which are as follows: purple stripe, glazed purple stripe, marbled purple stripe, porcelain, Rocambole, Asiatic, and Creole (although recently it’s been determined that Creole garlic may be in a class by itself).

Creole garlic is considered to be the most expensive and rarest of the all the garlic varieties. Although they were formerly thought to be a sub-group of silverskin garlic, modern DNA studies show them in a separate class by themselves.

Turban is the earliest maturing garlic and popular for this reason. It is a good choice for those who want to spread out their harvest and enjoy some fresh garlic before the rest of the varieties are ready.

It is a weakly bolting garlic. Its name comes from the shape of the umbel (the flower/seed pod on the scape).

Artichoke: The most commonly grown commercial garlic. It has a couple of concentric rows of cloves and tends to be very difficult to peel. But it produces and stores well and this is what you probably buy at the grocers.

You may have seen preperations of what is named Black Garlic which is quite expensive.

Mr Google tells me that it is; Black garlic is essentially regular garlic that’s been aged in a warm environment. Yep, that’s it. It’s not some rare garlic species that’s impossible to find.

Beware: Garlic might be good for people, but dogs metabolize certain foods differently than we do.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, garlic and other members of the allium family, including onions, contain thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs but not to humans.

Growing garlic tips: Best performance comes from improved soil – blend through some well-composted manure or quality compost before planting.

It will not tolerate heavy, clay soil or wet soil. Garlic will grow very well in pots. Use a premium-quality organic potting mix, or one that’s blended for edibles.

Chicken manure is a good option as a fertilizer for garlic as it is a great source of nitrogen and also contains phosphorus, potassium, plus other nutrients needed for strong and healthy plants.

Springle BioPhos over the bed and lightly work into the soil for phosphorus if you do not have chicken manure.

Soak the cloves in Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) at 20mils per litre of water for at least eight hours or as long as 24 – but 12 to 16 hours is ideal.

Your bulbs will start to produce roots as they soak, and longer soaks increase the risk that you’ll break the roots when you plant them. That inhibits growth and reduces yields.

Garlic grows well in a warm, sunny spot in the garden or in large pots. Begin with breaking up the bulbs into small cloves with your hands.

Place the cloves into the soil with the pointed end facing upwards. Note the biggest cloves will produce the best results plant only them and use the smaller cloves in cooking etc.

Break the garlic bulbs into individual cloves and plant them in rows spaced about 8cm apart.

Planting depth is 20-25mm. You can plant them any time from mid June to mid July.

The problem in recent years is garlic rust which attacks the foliage in later spring or summer and prevents the bulbs from growing much because of the lack of energy from the sunlight, caused by the rust on the leaves.

I have not found any normal sprays such as sulphur, copper, potassium permanganate to be of much use to prevent or control the disease.

So on advise I used the cell strengthening products which we recommend for psyllid control on tomatoes, potatoes and tamarillos.

That meant a soil drench with the Silicon and Boron soil drench after the cloves have sprouted and again 2 weeks later.

Also when the foliage was up a weekly spray with the Silicon cell Strengthening spray with the Silicon Super Spreader and MBL added. For two season now I have had no rust on my garlic where the previous season I had bad rust and poor bulbs.

If you had garlic rust problems in previous seasons you may like to try those products and help to have a good crop. If you are growing garlic and not had a rust problem yet then suggest you do a weekly spray with MBL which also has a nice amount of silicon in it.

If you dont want to use the drench and just the spray then we have a 500mil concentrate of the cell strengthening liquid with the spreader added. You would also add MBL to this spray.

This would be sprayed weekly till harvest, made up in a trigger spray bottle it keeps and keep using till all gone.

Later in season if you are unfortunate to get the dreaded rust you can regularly spray the foliage with Liquid Sun shine (Table spoon of molasses to litre of hot water dissolved and sprayed when cool)

Happy Garlic Growing; I am now off to plant mine…..

Products mentioned are from Wallys Range of products and can be found in some garden shops or by Mail Order on www.0800466464.co.nz

Problems ring me at: Phone 0800 466464
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
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