27 June, 2017

August 2011

Garden experts

Broughton's gardening experts from the left Peter Blackburne-Maze and Jonathan Piercy (AGW 2011)

Peter’s advice

I always think of strawberries as the best fruit for new gardeners to start with.

You plant them in August/September and, before you know where you are, the winter’s over, it’s July and you’re picking them.

This planting time is very important, though; if you leave planting until the autumn, or even later, the crop in the following summer becomes lighter and lighter. In fact, the weight halves for every month that planting is delayed after September.

Now, though, there is a way round this; by planting cold-stored runners.

There’s a good trick you can play with strawberries to get them ‘out of season’, and you can do it with any of the so called ‘autumn’ varieties. When they start producing flower buds in the spring, pick them all off until the end of May. Leave them on after that and you’ll get strawberries well after the normal summer ones have finished.  All clever stuff.

Another important job is strawing between the rows and under the plants to prevent Botrytis (Grey Mould).

This is a real killer and anyone who has grown strawberries will be all too familiar with it. At any time from when the petals are starting to show white, Botrytis spores will be splashed onto the opening flowers if there is no ground-covering. Within days the fungus will have infected the flowers and that’s the end of the story; and that year’s crop. Fluffy, grey and rotten fruits is all you’ll get. And that’s not the end of it because more spores will be released and remain in the ground until the following spring.

Another job concerns all strawberries that have fruited. Straight after fruiting, all the leaves, stolons and old fruiting stems must be cut back to within an inch or two of the main plant. They will all be worn out and could easily be infected with disease or carrying pests and, more likely, both.

Varieties? I’m trying a new one this year, Sonata. It’s a child of Elsanta and I’m hoping for big things from it.

Suppliers? A ‘new kid on the block’ this year is Pomona Fruits of Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex. It’s run by two youngsters who used to work round the corner for Ken Muir.  Also very good are Flamenco and Malling Opal, two super ‘perpetual’ varieties.

Forget those awful ones that arrive from Spain in the middle of the winter. Completely tasteless.

Peter Blackburne-Maze.

 

Jonathan’s Tips

1. Stone fruit and wisteria can be pruned from mid-August. If your summer fruiting raspberries have finished, prune the old canes to ground level. This is a good time to cut back perennials and lavender flower spikes.

2. Remove apples, pears and plums affected with brown rot.

3. Sow a crop of green manure on vacant spaces in the vegetable plot. This can be dug in during the autumn.

4. Keep watch for potato blight and harvest immediately if signs of blight become apparent.

5. Hedges and conifers can be given a good trim. Roses should be dead-headed regularly in order to encourage the growth of further flowers.

6. If you are going away, stand containers in a shady position so as they don’t dry out as quickly.

7. Keep harvesting courgettes and other fast maturing vegetables to ensure further crops.

8. Think about planting colchicum and other late summer bulbs towards the end of the month.

9. September is a good month for sowing grass seed so, if you need a new lawn, begin to prepare the ground during August.

Jonathan Piercy

 

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