I’m pretty sure I speak for many food gardeners when I say the amount of rain and the lack of sunshine we’re experiencing at the moment is making it difficult to grow vegetables well!
The water table in the ground is so high that when we get yet another downpour, water pools and takes a while to be absorbed. It has made me start to contemplate growing some things like Asian greens in containers.
Nevertheless, time rolls on and we’re now into winter. In the First Quarter moon phase I planted out our new strawberry plants grown from runners. If you’re starting from scratch, plants should be available to purchase soon.
The bed our plants have gone into had been made up with fertilisers and compost after clearing out the previous crop, so the plants were put straight into this bed without the need for any more preparation. The soil in this bed will be tending towards the acidic end of the scale which strawberries like, due to the rain and our clay soil, so I’m not correcting for this. If you’re starting a new strawberry bed, have a look at how Rob sets one up here.
Now I probably should have separated the new plants from the mother plants a few weeks back, and cleared out the old strawberry bed, because the old plants now have a spot on the leaves which I think will be a fungus of sorts and due to the rain.
The new plants are two months old now and they too have the odd spotty leaf.
The good thing is that they’re strong plants with a good root system, so first I cut the umbilical cord, then I just removed the spotted leaves and in they went.
The plants look a bit smaller on the surface, but they’ll come away well. There were even a few flowers on the new plants which need to be removed until about September, when you can let them go. I put a couple of handfuls of our Morganics fertiliser round each plant, laid straw and netted the bed.
Then it was a matter of clearing out the old plants which had an escaped mint plant growing in amongst them. I’ll take these plants off the property to minimise any risk of spreading a fungal disease.
I had planned to sow blue lupin seed as a green manure crop in this bed. If you have enough room, it’s a good idea to choose a different bed every year to grow a green manure crop in. Strawberry plants are big and take a lot of bulk out with them, so a cover crop is ideal to follow them. BUT, it’s my last space to put my last lot of brassica seedlings into, when they’re ready. Ideally, the last lot of brassicas should have gone in in May but these guys (hardening off here) are too small.
So I just covered the bed with straw to keep the soil from getting compacted by the rain and the weeds at bay and will re-evaluate in a couple of weeks’ time.
If you have a bed ready to sow a cover crop in, have a look at Rob sowing one here.
The brassicas are all going well, but none big enough yet to eat which I would have hoped for by now. Just not enough sunshine.
Two stages of the next biggest…
When I harvested our kumara in April I could see the roots of our guava tree had found their way into the bed. So I scattered alyssum seeds into it rather than planting another vegetable crop and they’re coming away nicely.
Now’s a good time to make sure you have a few flowers in your garden for the beneficial insects to feed on. The great thing is that once you get flowers established, they will self-seed and can be transplanted if they turn up in a not-so-great place. For flowers that do well in winter have a look at our insectary guide here.
Our second lot of carrots need a thin, but I’ve been waiting for the soil to dry out a little to make the job easier.
Hope everyone is keeping healthy and well!
From Jan and Rob