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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: Strawberry time

Growing strawberries

May is the traditional month when new seasons strawberry plants become 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.

Last year around this time because of the floods there were few strawberry plants available.

I see this year there are fair offerings but at a price.

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 Wallys Unlocking your Soil in the planting hole with a pinch of BioPhos for each strawberry plant (if you have Gypsum also a pinch of that too.)

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..

In saying that I have not seen any runners from my strawberry beds this season and a few other gardeners have said similar, I and don’t know why?

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 sides near the bottom for drainage 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 Wallys Secret Strawberry food, BioPhos, Unlocking your soil and Ocean Solids.

Horse manure is also very good if you know some horses.

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.

The most important aspect of growing great strawberries is a product called Wallys Mycorrcin which either on new strawberry beds or on older ones you will discover that a regular spray of Mycorrcin diluted in water over the foliage will increase your harvested fruit by about 400%.

Your plants will fruit sooner, the fruit will be bigger and tastier plus it will extent the fruiting season for even more fruit.

Once you have tidied up existing beds then side dress the plants with a little of Wallys Secret Strawberry food and lightly water to settle.

Make up the Mycorrcin in a trigger sprayer which you can also add your Magic Botanic Liquid too and spray the strawberry plants.

The spray keeps nicely in the trigger sprayer and so you can leave it sitting next to the strawberry bed shaded from direct sunlight, ready to use when passing.

Ideally spray plants once a week.

You will, within a day or two see that the plants have responded to the spray and looking even better.

There is a story I was told that a Commercial Strawberry grower heard about Mycorrcin and decided to try it on his commercial crop.

Not taking notice of the spray rates he apparently increased to double the amount per litre of water and sprayed the crop regularly.

What happened was that the ripe strawberries grew too big for the strawberry packs he used to sell them in and he had to go and find bigger packs to be able to sell the fruit.

Several gardeners whom have used Mycorrcin for their strawberries have told me that they have never had such big delicious strawberries and they only complained that it cost them a fortune for all the cream to go with them, when eating as a desert.

Image credit: Louis Hansel

Order from www.0800466464.co.nz.

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
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