Expert Tips on How to Grow Strawberries Under Cloches
How to Grow Strawberries under Cloches
This is a profitable and worthwhile method of growingand one which I have practised for a good many years. I find that it pays to give the site of the crop extra special preparation by digging in half-rotted manure and adding bonemeal and basic slag at the rate of 2 oz per running yard over the width covered by the cloche.
I find there is a tendency amongst present day home gardeners to leavepuffy and unconsolidated; this is further aggravated by the use of small rotary cultivators. It is important to tread down the soil well after the row has been prepared.
When you want to know how to grow strawberries In late summer, select the best and strongestand root these separately in small pots and, when well-rooted, plant them out with a trowel, making sure that the soil is packed in between the roots. I like to get the planting done by late September or early October at the latest. Water the plants if necessary to encourage root development before growth slows up. Keep them free from weeds and do nothing more except to remove debris or in some cases prevent them from making runners. Cover with cloches at the end of January or early February and beyond examining them periodically for aphids, they will require no attention.
Should the spring be dry, any watering should be done outside the cloches; on no account wet the surface of the soil underneath. This will discourage slugs from laying up under the leaves and attacking the crowns and will also almost completely eliminate attacks of.
If aphids should appear, the simplest way is to fumigate after covering the length of cloches with a sheet of thin polythene if glass cloches are used. Calculate the cubic capacity in the same way as you calculate the cubic capacity of a greenhouse, that is length by breadth by half the height.
Any type of cloche that has a height of 15 inches or more at the ridge is suitable for strawberries. As a rule, the flower and fruit trusses will need little or no support but twiggy growths or forked sticks cut from privet or a similar shrub should be used to prevent the berries leaning against the side of the glass as this causes condensation and may trigger off an attack of botrytis.
As soon as all worthwhile fruit has been gathered, the cloches may be removed and some transferred to the ordinary strawberry bed to advance some of the next batch. As the strawberries under cloches have not been really forced, the plants should be cleaned up, sprayed with an insecticide, given a good dressing ofmeal and then used for the second year as an ordinary bed of strawberries.
Where the cloches are wide enough, I have no hesitation in growing a few early carrots with the strawberries. Neither crop seems to mind this, the only danger being an aphid attack on the foliage of the carrots. I have grown strawberries under glass and glass-fibre cloches and the results have been equal, but under plastic or polythene film cloches the crop is slightly later and is vulnerable to frost which can cause black-eye damage.
In fact, although no controlled experiments have been done, strawberries seem more susceptible to frost damage under polythene sheeting than when grown outside and protected by straw. All strawberries are susceptible to frost damage when in flower so at this vulnerable time protect them with either straw, not now so readily available, or with nets. If grown in a fruit cage you should always put the flexible net top on before they start to bloom.
The ideal strawberry cage is one with 1/2 inch wire mesh sides with a removable top of plastic netting which should be removed after all the fruit has been gathered to allow birds to forage for insects. Never use a strawberry cage with a galvanised wire netting top as the drip, particularly in or near industrial areas, will contain traces of zinc which is poisonous to the plants underneath.
When learning how to grow strawberries, remember to always avoid planting strawberry beds at the base of a slope or in a low-lying area which may be a frost pocket, as the slightest touch of frost will damage the stamens causing them to have black-eye damage and the berry will never form properly.