Strawberries in short supply?

by Value hunter  

Word from my local farm shop / come garden centre, is that strawberries are in very short supply this year.

"We've tried everywhere for strawberries, no suppliers have them!"

They normally have a half of a poly-tunnel full of them, up to five layers high. On my visit on Tuesday, they were just selling their last three.
So what can you do to improve your strawberry plants this year?

You've missed the boat this year, ask neighbours if they have smaller plants they don't want/need.

Existing beds:
Your plants should have been starting to come through in the past couple of weeks. Separate them and get them fed on compost.
Weed those beds out early.
You could even move their bed for this year to a different area of your garden, this may improve the yield.
I have been told a few times, that strawberry beds should have new plants mixed in every other year, as over three seasons growing, the plants grow weaker and smaller fruit may come off the crop.
This is why I let mine shoot off and push in the off shoots, so new plants come for free.

One tactic I won't be using this year, is to apply stray/hay around the base.
Under the guise of, "It helps protect the fruit," I tried it last year, all it did was provide plenty of hiding places for slugs!

Happy growing.

Comfrey cuttings to plants

by Value hunter  

Comfrey cuttings into plants must be one of the easiest ways to feed your garden.
If nature didn't make it, someone would have invented it.

Dig out root, break into 2 inch pieces, plant horizontally, cover with compost, water well and leave it alone.

Some say better to dig up in Autumn, but I've dug it up and planted at all times of the year, without issue.

Leaves can be added to water-butt, stirred and (a bit smelly) but break down nicely to provide watering feed (1 to 100 parts water)
Leaves and stems can be cut, left to dry out for a day where potatoes are being planted, covered with compost and feeds well.
Leaves and stems can be cut and laid as mulch around tomatoes/potato plants, providing good feed.
Flowers are a great attraction to bees and other pollinators.
Slugs I've found, are not a fan of comfrey.

Don't buy it!
It can grow in dry and wet conditions, have a look around ponds, etc.
(I've seen comfrey cuttings advertised for £5/£6 - it's readily available for free, naturally)

If watering veg is a problem, then it's a great way to feed.
Some cut leaves and shred them into a drainpipe with some broken stones, so rain water runs through the pipe and into water butt, I've always added leaves directly to water butt.

It's also great for keeping down wild grass as it provides ground cover (ideal for around a pond) and helps prevention of ponds that dry out, where frogs hang out.

The comfrey roots deep, drawing minerals from as deep as 5 foot down, bringing it to the surface in it's leaves, which can provide natural food for plants.

No dig gardening update...

by Value hunter  

I feel a bit of a gardening fraud!

My no dig garden patch, is sat there slowly growing, all I've had to do is water it every other day.
The tomato, pea pods, lettuce, sweetcorn and cucmber plants, brought on in the recycled greenhouse, are doing fine.

One thing I have noticed, is the reduction in slugs, there are little to none.
Worms a plenty though when I took the carpet off to plant in.

Touch wood it stays this way...

No dig progress

by Value hunter  

My no dig, front garden patch is making progress.

Around 3 weeks just leaving the old carpet and waterproof cover on, I pulled it back to reveal most of the weeds / grass has yellowed and was dying out.
Next up, a tonne bag of black, rotten compost. Not enough coverage, so found a local farmer who keeps horses. Another three tonne, of almost rotted down horse manure, raked over the top and recovered for 24 hours, to help flatten it all down and settle.

Next up, start planting out.

No dig progress
Planting out seeds and greenhouse started seedlings...


Sweetcorn (seed), cucumber (greenhouse grown), carrots, spinach (sprog2's request), golden onions and red onions all planted in, half a patch still to fill with lettuce, tomatoes, garden peas (all greenhouse grown), along with spring onions and something I've grown in the greenhouse but can't for the life of me, remember what heh.

More progress, if any, to follow...

No dig gardening...

by Value hunter  

I've been watching some of Charles Dowding's videos over on his website ( regarding no dig gardening.

I've got a mess of a front garden, some bulbs and flowers in one half, with a temporary drive, made up of concrete, plaster, junk and what I later found, was a sheet of visquene on the other side, divided by three old concrete lintels I put in to seperate, a few years ago.

It was a mess, so what the hell, let's give this no dig gardening a shot.

I broke up the plaster and concrete waste and removed the visquene from under it all, leaving everything else in.
I pulled up loads of weeds by hand and chucked them on top.
Removed the lintels, left the nettles in and the grass popping up, as well as the bulbs, the recurring flowers that were just starting to sprout.
Then covered the whole lot in an old woollen carpet, weighted down with stone and an old prop.

In three weeks' time, I'll lift the carpet and put about 6 inches of manure/compost over it all, then leave it for another two weeks.
Our neighbours think I'm nuts.

I've started some seeds off in the greenhouse, after two weeks they are starting to come through, cucumbers, corn on the cob, lettuce and stacked up on onion bulbs.
I plan to leave some of the flowers around the edge and the buddlea tree that's been in about two years.

A no dig garden
Working on a no dig garden
I'll report back and we'll see how it goes...

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