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Archive for the ‘Strawberriies’ Category

After all the snow, illness and Christmas in December, it’s no surprise to be starting January with a renewed vigour and energy.  This has been helped by the brighter, less frozen weather.  We went to the Stanley Road plot today, and what a wonderful sight.

Firstly and unusually for us, the shed was still in the same place on our plot, instead of half-way across the site crushing someone else’s plot.  Secondly the site looked lovely bathed in cool winter sunlight, showing to best effect how much effort has been put in on the part of many plot holders.

Finally, we managed to get loads of digging done before the whingeing started.  Maybe the novelty effect was at work, or it could have been the picnic lunch that kept the girls going for longer?

Tonight it’ll be time to get out the crop rotation plans from previous years, and work out the plan for this year.

Current thoughts are that we will dig out even more of the couch grass paths.  The stuff is relentless, and never stops spreading either by invasive roots, overhead suckers or seed.  Once dug, the size of the beds shrinks every couple of months under constant pressure from the sides.

It’s also decision time for the strawberry patch.  It was such a disappointment last year, the crops were so puny and it now takes up almost half of the main growing area.  One option would be to dig them all up and go for something else.  Alternatively we could dig them up completely, pick the very best looking plants, manure the bed, cover it with weed membrane, replant the best along with some new vigorous ones and hope for a better year.  Not sure which one we will do at present.  Tempting to give it up as a bad job.

Other ideas are to use the beds for a Sarah Raven type “Cutting Garden”,  or to give annual crops another go.  One lesson I have learned is that I need a proper dedicated annual bed, with no perennials or shrubs which just make weeding too difficult.  Time to get those seed catalogues!

Decisions, decisions.

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Despite trying my best to grow strawberries and raspberries year after year, we have never really had much success (see picture below for this year’s harvest!)

We have a relatively huge space dedicated to them, and have painstakingly planted, weeded, watered and checked the crop.  We got a handful this year, but it was all very disappointing.

Things came to a crisis point when we recently ran out of the 2008 supply of homemade jam.  As we used the last drop, with no sign of our own glut, something had to be done.  So we went to Garson’s pick your own farm, in Esher, Surrey.  What a find!  There are as many as 40 crops you can pick throughout the year, depending on season.  They have popular crops such as strawberries in succession, so you can pick them more or less any time from spring to autumn.

I can’t quite put my finger on why our home-made jam is so special and so essential in my kitchen.

It could be that the jam is made with fresh and ripe fruit, usually on the same day as picking?

It could be the dash of balsamic vinegar that Nigella recommended?

It could be the gooey lumpiness which it has, rather than the pert jelliness of shop bought jam?

Whatever it is, it makes it well worth the hours of picking, preparing, cooking and putting into jars.  I am so looking forward to that first batch of scones with cream and jam.

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