Wally Richards: Nearly Winter – time to get strawberries and get rid of hydrocotyle


June is the first month of winter, and happily the month that most types of strawberry plants become available in garden centres.  Strawberries were originally a woodland plant and the modern strawberries (such as Pajaro), have been bred from these wild varieties. It is important to remember this when you come to plant strawberries in containers or strawberry beds.   They grow best in a partly sunny situation, with ample ‘woodland’ debris, such as rotting leaves and decaying wood.

Woodland Mix
As there are ample fallen leaves available at this time of year, you can collect these and put them through a shredder or lay them on an out-of-the-way bit of lawn and run over them with a rotary mower.  Your catcher should be full of nicely shredded leaves.  Mix with this a similar amount of untreated sawdust to replicate decaying wood.   Add a good sprinkling of blood and bone and you have your ‘woodland’ mix.  About half of the mix should be worked into the area where you are going to plant your strawberries, saving the remainder for mulch to place around the strawberries after planting.  If you are going to plant into containers or troughs, add your woodland mix to an equal amount of compost/ top soil mix (two thirds compost, one third soil). Combine well for a good potting medium.

Plant your strawberry plants and then drench them with Mycorrcin, MBL and water. The has been proven in trials to increase the yield of strawberries by 200 – 400%.  For ongoing treatment, spray the plants fortnightly with Mycorrcin (MBL can be added to this if you like).  For those that like to obtain the most health benefits from their home grown produce, place a quarter teaspoon of Ocean Solids and half a teaspoon of Rok Solid under each plant in the planting hole.

For gardeners that have existing strawberries, now is the time to collect the rooted runners to start off a fresh strawberry patch.  Existing plants that have done well and are free of disease can be left in the beds and drenched with the Mycorrcin.  Any plants that have not done well or have disease should be removed from the bed.  Also remove dead leaves from existing plants and tidy up the bed.

In the spring you can apply the woodland mix as a mulch with any of the other products as desired. The earlier you establish your new strawberries the better the crop you will achieve this coming season. Late plantings in spring or early summer will never be as good as plantings now.

I recently received the following email from a gardener in Foxton and with his permission given, I would like to share it with you.

“Hello Wally,
I have finally eradicated the Hydrocotyle weed in all my lawns.  This weed was rampant, but I can finally tell you that I killed the lot.  Now, I used a weed killer called “GRAZON” – a fellow musician in Otaki gave me some and apparently it is very costly indeed.  This chap, “Tim” gave me a container of Grazon which would have held approximately 30mls.  What I found out was this weed is a classic – in that it had what I term as “survival characacteristics”.

I adjusted the spray nozzle for a fine misty flow.  I soon found I had to re-spray every 2 days, for a total of 8 days.  In the end the weed gave up.   When I first began spraying, the leaf was rather large – about the size of clover.  After spraying, the leaf went brown and just disappeared.  What really surprised me was the quick appearance of new, small, fresh growth of this hardy weed.  So I soon realised I had to spray every 2nd day and finally it disappeared.
Now I understand that Christchurch suffers from this weed in a big way.  The root of the problem was traced to small motor launches and yachts, which had travelled down the Avon and Heathcote rivers where this weed was rampant.  The owners of these boats would wash them down with a hose on their property, only to find later that the weed got a hold on in their lawns.

I have three lawns which were infested and I can honestly say that I have now eradicated 99% of this weed, but have no illusions that I will not from time to time have to spray again. My lawns were infested by a person who commercially mows lawns.   I suffered a stroke in 1998 and so I obtained the services of a lawn-mowing person and I am convinced that this person did not wash his mowers before using them on my property.

I trust this information will help other people who have this weed in their lawns.

Kind regards, R White, Foxton.”

Maybe there are some gardeners that have this weed in their lawns and wish to eradicate the pest. Grazon can be found in many stock and station agents, farm suppliers etc.  It is available in one litre bottles which should be available for the home gardener without having to have a Handers Licence.  I personally do not like the use of herbicides but for some situations they are a boon.  Remember that for a few months the lawn clippings are likely to contain the herbicide so do not use them in your compost or as a mulch around your gardens, except under well-established trees and shrubs.

To prevent spray-drift you can make a spray shield out a 2-litre plastic ice cream container. Make a hole in the centre of the container just big enough to fit over the end of your spray wand when the nozzle is removed. Screw back on the nozzle and adjust it to a medium spray mist.  When you place the container over the weed and pull the trigger all the spray particles will remain inside the container area.  Do not use this spray unit for any other types of sprays except for weed killers.  Even if you wash it out thoroughly there may still be some parts per million adhered to the plastic tank and that is all it takes to upset your roses, beans and tomatoes.

Problems? Ring me on 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 357 0606)
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