Wally Richards – winter gardening & strawberries

Predictions suggest that we are in for a warmer winter than normal with some cold snaps to keep us awake.

Winter is a “cruising” time in the garden with just enough things to do to get us cracking on those nicer days.

Growth is slow and the need to water just about nil except for container plants that don’t get enough rain on them and plants in glasshouses.  Make sure you have used Vaporgard, spray on frost protection over your more tender garden plants so you do not get caught out if there is a frost.

With wet soil it is a good time to clean up weeds in gardens. This can be done by pulling out the weeds and shaking the dirt off the roots or even better with a sharp knife cut any weed tops off just below soil level. The roots stay in the soil to rot away and the tops can either be composted or laid on bare soil to break down. If there are still roots attached to the tops do not lay them on the soil as they will likely root up again during winter (in summer they would shrivel up and die). Your pest weeds then become a free fodder crop.

For those gardeners who use chemical weed killers, to make sure you get a good kill in winter add some dissolved sulphate of ammonia to the spray along with Raingard. This promotes growth which causes death and the Raingard aids the spray to penetrate the foliage better resulting in a 50% better result.

It is the time to order fruit trees and roses from your garden centre if you have not done so yet.  And talking of fruit, it is now coming close to the time to start thinking “Strawberries”.  New season’s plants normally start coming available in May/June period.  If you have your own runners from existing plants then these can be used to replace old plants that are no longer so productive, have disease or to start a new bed.  I highly recommend making a strawberry trough to sit on the top rail of an iron fence or similar.  It should be on a fence that gets a good amount of sun and not in a too shady situation.

There are a number of advantages growing strawberries in this manner such as:

  • The berries tend to cascade over the side of the trough which makes them easy to pick (no bending) and difficult for the birds to get them.
  • It means you can plant a lot of strawberries without taking up any gardening space.

I made a new fence trough last winter using two planks 25cm wide, the first one was screwed to the top rail of the fence and then a plank 13cm wide screwed to this above the rail to give the trough a depth of 13 cm. The second 25cm plank was screwed to the edge of the one screwed to the rail, at level to make the 13cm deep trough complete once ends were also used. You may like to screw a few blocks to the top rail to give more support to the trough above. Next the tantalized wood was painted inside the trough with acrylic paint to seal in the chemicals.
Later the trough was filled with a mix of chicken manure, Bio Boost, purchased compost and sawdust.
The strawberry plants were planted up and as the length of the trough I made was 5 metres long it took from memory about 48 plus plants.

Using Mycorrcin as a spray to increase the crop I was able to obtain about 40 kg or more of ripe strawberries half of which went into jam and the other as desserts. Everyday when I watered I would have a feed of strawberries.
Bird problems were minor and with a couple of lots of Bird Repeller Ribbon the crop was not touched.  The Mycorrcin kept the plants and berries healthy and the occasional spray of Perkfection prevented dry berry getting a hold.
Overall a great result.

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