Field Allotments at Amerton
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
Alan J Hartley
Fun With Strawberries.
Strawberry plants need to be replaced every few years as the old plants become “Tired,” or too old and woody to be productive, so it is always a good idea to be growing on a few “Runners,” each year for when they are needed as replacements. Having just planted a nice Strawberry bed last year with “Runners,” taken from plants at home the previous year, I decided I ought to create a few more plants. I filled with soil, and carefully placed, a couple of dozen 3 inch pots under some of the larger Strawberry runners on my allotment plot. The un-rooted “Runners,” were held onto the pot by some large stones so that they were in contact with the soil to encourage the roots. After just a couple of weeks they were rooted well enough into the pots to cut them free from their parent plants. Leaving them attached like this means that they keep growing while rooting instead of separating them before they have rooted and starving them of moisture when the weather could turn hot and fry them.
Although the parent plants produced a lot of “Runners,” they were disappointing, as there was virtually no fruit to pick and what little there was,
had been just pulled from the plants and left on the ground. Maybe birds or mice were the culprits or maybe the thieves were a different type of local animal life altogether! In fact I harvested more Strawberries from the original half dozen plants in the drainpipe “tower planters,” at home than the 24 plants on my Allotment! Maybe the plants needed another year before becoming fully productive, or it maybe that the “Bark
Chippings,” that I spread around them instead of Straw, robbed the soil of too much Nitrogen.
While on our travels the other week we saw a new type of Strawberry called a “Pine Berry.” I was not really that impressed with them on first inspection as they looked just like anaemic, white, Strawberries to me. They were supposed to taste of Pineapple, but I think that was just using poetic license to sell them. However, when my Mother pointed out that, as white Strawberries, they are unlikely to be stolen by certain types of thieves because they won’t know when they are ripe!
Another type of Strawberry that has been disappointing for me this year has been the Strawberry Tree, or Arbutus Unedo that has not produced a single berry again this year. I lost one bush a couple of Winters back and since then the remaining Arbutus is growing well, but not “Berrying Up,” at all. I was hoping to get some self rooted cuttings from my plant, but cuttings are difficult to root, so I was thinking of trying to grow one from seed. However, Arbutus are slow to grow and need to be quite mature before the bright red, slow developing berries, are produced, so I think I will have to buy an expensive, mature companion plant for the garden to get some fruit sooner, rather than wait years for it.
Another weird, freak of a plant that I couldn’t resist buying when I heard about it, is
the “Pink Blueberry.” A contradiction in terms I think the pink fruit will still look good in a fruit salad.
Finally, I managed to buy a Japanese WineBerry, to use its common name, which is a member of the Rubus, or Bramble family like Blackberries and Raspberries. This plant is really more decorative than for fruit as the long canes are covered in bright red bristles and the berries are small and full of seeds. However, although the berries are also fairly tasteless, they are sweet, so they are full of sugar and good for their juice in making homemade wines etc. Hence, the berry’s common name of Wine Berry.