Yesterday was another lovely warm day and I took the opportunity to get on with tidying up the Strawberries and cutting the strawberry runners I had planted up a fortnight earlier, from the parent plants. Tidying the strawberry plants is a time consuming but necessary job, as it involves taking each plant in turn and trimming off the old, dying or dead foliage, thereby allowing the plant to concentrate all its’ energy into producing the healthy new growth essential to fruitful season next year – see what I did there?
To be honest, I quite enjoy this process as it is pretty satisfying to see the transformation from a straggly gaggle of plants into a neat and tidy display. Of course this whole process is made easier for me because all my strawberries are in pots and so I am able to carry one pot at a time (there were 35 of them) across to the composter and trim, weed and declutter in situ’.
I do often think about having a dedicated strawberry bed but pots do seem easier as I can place them where ever is easiest and most convenient and. as was the case yesterday, tidying them up is a relative breeze. During the course of the pruning I did have to compost three or four of the older plants as their roots and main stem had decayed to virtually nothing but then some of these plants are around 3 or 4 years old and were beyond their best.
However, there are more than enough runners to plug the gaps and I have placed these in the relative warmth of the larger greenhouse, to offer them some protection from the winter weather and Mud and I both feel that this winter will be another harsh one, following, as it does, a pretty good summer. Some 30 runners have been successfully planted up from the vegetable patch plants and there are a further half dozen potted runners down amongst the flower bed plants which will be separated from the parent plant today and will join the others in the greenhouse.
Earlier this year, I planted some of last years runners into one of our smaller green flexi tubs and yesterday, as I was working my way through the pots I realised that there were flowers and a strawberry growing amongst the foliage. This tub has now been trimmed and tidied and I have placed it in the small greenhouse next to the cauliflower to see if we can actually get a very, very late harvest of strawberries (all three of them). Mud doesn’t think I will and he’s probably right but you’ve got to give these things a chance.
Two hours after finishing the strawberry plants looked a lot better and I downed tools for the day.
On the dining room window sill is a tiny, four cell seed tray, in which I had sown five Little Elf Chilli seeds on August 30th. I had been quite surprised when less than three weeks later, three seedlings had appeared, as germination normally takes much longer than this – at least 28 days. One of the seedlings failed but I have been monitoring the growth of the remaining two and these appear to be strong, healthy young plants.
Chillis are a frustrating, if rewarding plant to grow in my experience, trying the growers patience and nerve to the full. They push you to the point of believing that all your seeds have failed, as the estimated germination period passes by without a sign of life, lulling you into thinking that the you have to sow another set of seeds and then both sets start to germinate at the same time and over an extended period and so you end up with dozens of plants, all requiring a warm and sheltered spot in the greenhouse!
And even when you think that the last of the viable seeds has germinated several weeks earlier, you may well be in for a shock. So yesterday evening as I was passing my tray of Little Elf seedlings, I spotted a surprise addition. Some three weeks after the first two seedlings had shown themselves another seed has germinated and the seedling was just visible above the compost.
This time I’m going to carefully label each of the seedlings because I want to know if the third seedling catches up with it’s tray mates, flowering and fruiting at the same time, or if it will always be a few weeks behind.