Monday, February 28, 2011

Strawberries & Rhubarb

You can tell that spring is on its way as the rhubarb crowns are ready to unfurl from their pink and yellow bulbs and little buds are on the fruit trees. It's still damn cold so any chance of getting excited about the upcoming planting season is dampened (quite literally) from the squidgy toboggan run that is our pathway to the greenhouse. It is bogging!

Couch grass has become enemy number one so far. I'm having a difficult time rummaging through dead grass leaves that have taken to throttling my lovely strawberries. Even the rhubarb is surrounded! I've been gradually picking through mud, dead foliage and slug's eggs (we'll come to them later) to dig up the new strawberry runners that sprouted last year. I've put down the new breathable fabric in the front bed and nailed it to 2 surrounding planks with tyres on top to weigh it down. It's particularly windy at the moment so I had a few stern words with the fabric before it finally laid down on the earth rather than blowing in my face. I cut out crosses along the grid marked fabric and plonked a strawberry plant in each one. I'm hoping the fabric will solve the grass issue that has ruined our previous two beds where we tried to grow strawberries before.

Strawberries are pretty tough plants and can handle a bit of neglect. When they shoot runners they're not fussy on where they grow. I've got them growing between bits of wood, soggy mulch, rain trenches, carpet, puddles etc. They are as annoying and stubborn as dandelions when it comes to casually planting themselves in awkward places but... they taste fantastic so I'll forgive their senseless wanderings.

Random Facts: The modern French word for dandelion is "pissenlit" which means 'piss on the bed' due to the strong diuretic effect the plant has. Strawberries are named so as they are berries traditionally grown on straw mulch, thus lifting them off the ground as well and away from slugs. (yeah, you probably already knew that!)

I got about 20-30 strawberries replanted before my hands went numb at dusk so I came back the next day to sort out the rhubarb. The grass here is just diabolical so I just dug and pulled up as much as I could. I'll come back to this when the weather is drier and easier to dig.
Whilst pulling up the clumps of grass I came across some rather gloopy looking eggs. Slugs eggs! Loads of them!! I managed to move a lot of them out of the ground and flung them out on the road for the birds. I fear that there will be more... a lot more! :(

A job we missed off the list was the scarecrow. Worzel Scummage is looking a bit worse for wear after enduring winter so Dave's going to give him a new post with new arms and a new can of cheap lager to complete his iconic look for 2011!

Worzel Scummage looking a bit knackered from Winter!
Strawberry patch ready for planting
Strawberries planted (3 rows done since photo taken)
Snug as a bug...
Euuuuwwwww!!!!!! (AKA slug eggs)

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