The weather has been amazing. Apparently, this week it is hotter in Ireland than it is in Spain. Imagine? I must remember to cancel the holiday flights. Anyway, the garden is hopping. Everything is growing at a incredible rate, including the weeds. Little Paddler has taken offence to the thistles. She fell one too many times and refers to them as “Ow pillows”. Mr. Fairweather has not been lolling around in the sun but has been hard at work on my behalf. Every so often he comes home from his job and disappears off in to the boathouse or the garden to get stuck in to some project or another. There may or may not be a chainsaw involved. It’s great. There are some jobs I don’t mind getting stuck into. And there are others that I either can’t do with a toddler around (like strimming), or else just don’t want to do (anything involving the chainsaw or axe). Lately, he has been tackling my strawberries. Or at least a home for my strawberries.
Last summer, I decided not to worry too much about how big a fruit harvest I was getting off of my strawberries but rather, how many new plants I could get. I started with five parent plants and I rooted their runners. It’s actually one of the easiest plants to propagate but yet somehow makes me feel like a professional. You let the plant put out its runners and when leaves start to form at a node, you pin the node down into soil – in my case I used small pots of compost and weighed the runners down with more compost. Water in well and it will start to send out roots. When you see new leaves forming on the baby plants, you can snip the runner or vine from the parent plant and let nature continue to do her thing. Sometimes, the runner will continue on and put out additional nodes. I pop everything in to little pots and hope for the best. It’s a good idea to do this every couple of years. I’m told strawberry plants should really be replaced every three years. Why keep forking out money for new plants when the DIY job is so simple? I would suggest doing a few each year, as the plant will put its energy into making runners as opposed to fruit and it would be nice to get some fruit each year.
From my five parent plants, I ended up with just over forty baby plants. I gave a lot of these away, or swapped them for other plants. But this spring, when I went in to the tunnel to assess stock levels, I found twenty two healthy plants itching for a new home. Mr. Fairweather set out to provide just such a home. We have a pile of tree trunks lying around. These are probably destined for firewood mostly. They are rejects from building the boathouse. I took a notion some time ago that if we hollowed them out, they would make great plant beds. When I say “we”, I actually mean Mr. Fairweather. Like I said before, jobs involving chainsaws, axes, chisels, etc, I just don’t do. I am incredibly accident prone and really, why tempt fate?
When Mr. Fairweather runs with a project, he really runs. It all has to be thought out and planned out. I left the details to him. He cut into the tree trunks with a V shape and cut through the base to ensure good drainage. I had overlooked the drainage aspect in my vision. His first attempt probably had too much drainage and the soil/compost would fall right through. Never fear. He filled the bottom with long slivers of wood which while still allowing drainage would stop the soil falling out. For legs, he split smaller lengths in two along their vertical axis. The log trough would rest between these.
He manhandled them in to place and I filled them. First with a layer of well rotted cow manure. Then with soil before popping my plants in. They look fantastic even if I say so myself. I can’t wait for some fruit. We have two of these so far. All the regular strawberries are planted. I swapped plants for some alpine strawberries to try. So I’ll have to sweet talk one more trough out of Mr. Fairweather for those.