Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taste of Summer; Give Some Love to Your Fruit Crop Now Because There's Nothing Nicer Than Plucking a Strawberry as You Garden

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taste of Summer; Give Some Love to Your Fruit Crop Now Because There's Nothing Nicer Than Plucking a Strawberry as You Garden

Article excerpt

Byline: YOUR GARDEN With Diarmuid Gavin

The world can feel like a turbulent, unpredictable place at times, and that's when our gardens can become a place of retreat. We often live through our minds and our memories, and central to the psyches of many of us is the garden.

We think back on long summers, often with good weather, spent outside.

We mark the season by national celebrations - it may be the Chelsea Flower Show or Wimbledon.

Beautiful blossoms, not all native to our shores, including roses, dahlias, delphiniums and lavender, remain in our mind's eye as symbols of British gardens where everything is always all right.

Central to this notion of 'keep calm and garden on' is a humble little plant that creeps along the ground before bursting into life with pretty, smiling flowers then the most luscious summer fruit of them all - the strawberry.

There's nothing more delicious than plucking one of those juicy fruits straight from the garden.

They're versatile enough to be grown in borders, containers and even hanging baskets - the latter being a good option to keep them clear of snails.

I grow them in a raised bed and this week spent a couple of hours giving them some TLC.

Weeding is important to allow the plants to gain the maximum moisture and nutrients from the soil. Weeds can also host pests and disease.

As a lot of fruits were forming, it was time to put some strawberry mats or straw down to keep the fruit clean of the soil and prevent rot.

I didn't have any straw handy so I recycled bubblewrap which I think will do a similar job.

You could also use sheets of black polythene which will warm up the soil before we enter high summer. Polythene will suppress further weed growth and retain moisture in the soil.

Next, I sprinkled a high potash seaweed feed around the base of the plants - it's best to avoid water on the foliage or fruits at this stage.

The final task was to put some fine mesh over the fruits - each year the birds Elsanta have got far more from these strawberry plants than me!

Horticultural fleece would also be suitable. …

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