Tips for Planting Strawberries

Here are my best tips for planting strawberries. Strawberries are my personal favourite fruit, with a sprinkling of sugar. They are relatively easy to grow if you buy virus free starter plants.

Strawberry plants are a fairly robust plant and can be grown outside in an allotted area or they can be grown in a variety of pots and containers. I’ve actually grown them in an old pair of wellington boots with the toe cap cut out.

If you’re going to be growing strawberries in raised beds or straight into the garden, as with anything else you grow, you will first need to prepare the soil which is easy as strawberries are not too fussy about what soil type you have. If the soil is highly fertile then this encourages foliage at the expense of the fruit. If the soil is to poor you will need to add a low fertile soil improver before you plant.

Planting Strawberries with the correct spacing and care

Kết quả hình ảnh cho growing strawberries space

All plants are normally grown in rows. You will need to space your plants about 30-45 cm (12-18 inches) apart and make your rows about 50cm (20 inches) apart. The reason for this is it creates good air flow and circulation, which reduces the possibility of disease and obviously allows the plant to grow. A good healthy plant can produce in the region of 20 strawberries, so take this into account when you are planting.

Taking care of your strawberries will require you to occasionally water them during normal conditions and keep your plants well watered when conditions are dry. A little bit of general weeding will always benefit any plant. When the fruit is ripe, pick it and enjoy it. When you have picked all the fruit you will need to tidy up some of the plants and remove any “runners” (long wiry stems with plantlets on the ends). If you want more plants use the runners and plant them for new plants.

Problems when Planting and Growing Strawberries

Kết quả hình ảnh cho growing strawberries problem

The best way to ensure a good crop is to start with virus free baby plants. Any runners you replant need to come from a healthy adult strawberry plant.

Some recommend placing straw around the plants to stop the strawberries from rotting. I personally don’t bother as they are picked as soon as they are ripe.

Strawberries have the following vitamins and minerals. B2, B5, B6, vitamin K, copper, and magnesium. Strawberries also contain omega fatty acids. All of this goodness is about 45 calories for seven medium strawberries. And not only that, but the fibre in strawberries, helps your body absorb nutrients, inhibits the production of cholesterol in your liver, and helps stabilize your blood glucose.

So they not only taste good but are healthy!

Planting strawberries and watching them produce fruit is very satisfying and it becomes very worthwhile when you are eating them with your favourite topping.

How To Start Growing Raspberries

growing grassberries

If you’re thinking about growing raspberries then as with most plants, spring is the best time to start them off. You will need a decent size area and some form of trellis work as they will need supporting as they grow.

I’ve put mine down one side of the garden and used the fence to support them. If space is limited you can put in a 5ft/1.5m stake and group a few plants around it.

The most common raspberry species is called “summit” and these will give you some great tasting raspberries without too many problems.

At this point I would like to tell you of some of the health benefits of these tasty berries. Whilst packed with numerous minerals, vitamin A, C, E and antioxidants they are also a good source of fibre.

You can either get new plants (canes) or as I did scrounged some cuttings from a friend. Either way make sure they are free from viruses.

Growing Raspberries – Soil Preparation and Planting

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Growing Raspberries Soil

Raspberries prefer a free draining, slightly acidic soil. Just add some compost or manure if you can get it. Get rid of any weeds onto your composting pile and you’re ready to put in your stakes or supports.

Put one post at one end and one at the other and run three cords or wires at the top, middle and bottom.

If you’re going to be growing raspberries your plants need to be spaced about 38-45 cm (15-18ins) apart to allow good aeration. They will also benefit from some mulch such as straw spread around the base. This will keep some of the moisture in during the summer.

During the first year you will need to tie the support canes to the support wire as they grow. Remove all the flowers that form so that there is no cropping.

Each year after that you will need to cut out and remove the old canes once they have fruited and tie in the new ones.

Growing Raspberries – Pruning

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Growing Raspberries Pruning

There are raspberries that fruit in the summer and ones that fruit in the autumn. These are both pruned in a different way. Summer raspberries should have their old canes pruned just after you harvest the crop. These are canes that have been planted in the first year and you would harvest the fruit in the second year.

Autumn fruiting raspberries produce fruit in that growth year and should be pruned by mid-winter after they have fruited. All the canes should be cut back to ground level.

Raspberries diseases

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Growing Raspberries diseases

There are a few diseases that you may come across, these are fruit rot, root rot, and spur blight. Fruit rot is a fungus and is about when your canes are too crowded. The cure is to prune to open up the plants and to pick frequently in wet weather. Avoid overhead watering.

Root rot results in the death of the plant right after flowering, just as the weather starts to get warm. The only way to avoid this is to plant resistant varieties in well-drained, rich soil.

Spur blight looks like dark chocolate-coloured blotches on the canes in mid-summer to fall when the humidity is high. Infected areas are silver grey and produce millions of spores. A lime-sulphur solution should be applied in a spray. If you have good air circulation this should be enough to prevent it.

Growing raspberries can be very rewarding and if you get it right you will have an abundance of delicious fruit. Any excess can be frozen, just freeze them on a tray and when frozen pop them into bags for latter on in the year.

What you need to know about growing gooseberries?

The gooseberry is not everyone’s ideal fruit but if you want to have a go at growing gooseberries then the following may be helpful.

There are a few gooseberry varieties you may want to look at and they are:

‘Invicta’ – a very fast growing and spreading gooseberry bush that bears large, pale green berries suitable for dessert and culinary use.

‘Greenfinch’ – This is a very good disease-resistant variety that forms quite compact bushes. Bright green fruits and are excellent for cooking.

‘Whinham’s Industry’ – Very popular red-fruited variety, likes partial shade. Good choice for heavy soils but can be prone to mildew.

‘Careless’ – This is the most popular cooking variety with pale green fruits that gives heavy yields. Grows well on most soils but again susceptible to the old mildew.

What you need to know about Planting Gooseberries.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho growing gooseberries

If you chose bare rooted bushes then you can plant between autumn and spring. If you chose container grown, these can be grown all year round.

You will need to plant your gooseberry bushes where there is good airflow to basically prevent diseases and make sure you water them regularly especially when the fruits are swelling and ripening.

All varieties prefer sunshine but you can get away with part shaded areas. Newly planted bushes should fruit the following year.

Space your gooseberry bushes 1.2 – 1.5m apart and cordons should be 40 – 45 cm apart.

Gooseberry Diseases

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Gooseberry Diseases

The most common problem is the same as with any type of berry, birds. If you’re thinking about growing gooseberries then you will be pleased to know that they aren’t too fussy about their soil conditions unless it’s really poor and you should add some low fertility soil improver before planting.

Netting may be required depending on your area. The most common disease is sawfly larvae; these little critters can very quickly defoliate a plant. Mildew can be a problem for younger plants. You need to pick off the sawfly larvae and cut out any mildewed leaves.

How to prune gooseberries

Kết quả hình ảnh cho prune gooseberries

Pruning in the winter will help to form an equal branch structure and keeps the centre of the gooseberry bush open to make picking easier. Mildew and some diseases are also reduced if air circulation is encouraged.

Prune back the previous year’s growth to two buds. These are the fruits from the old wood and around the base of last year’s growth.

You will need to prune out any shoots that are growing into the centre of the bush, and make sure you cut back the leaders by one-third.

If your growing gooseberries starting with a bush then summer pruning certainly isn’t essential, but if possible prune the side shoots back to about five leaves and do this in June. This allows the sun to reach into the centre of the bush and help ripen the fruit.

If you’re going to use single-stemmed cordons then these can be trained onto canes or against a wall that will allow it to grow to 1.8m (6ft) tall. In summer, again prune the side shoots back to five leaves to encourage the fruiting spurs to develop.

You will also need to tie the leading shoot tip into the support as it grows.

In the winter, you will need to shorten the previous year’s growth on the main tip back by about a quarter to encourage the new side shoots. Shorten side shoots that you pruned in the summer to two or three buds.

When it comes to Harvesting Gooseberries

Make sure that each string of fruit is fully coloured and pick the whole bunch. Make sure you where gloves as the prickles hurt!

Eat the gooseberries from fresh or if you’re that way inclined make them into preserves or jellies.

Thinking of Growing Vegetables in Raised Beds?

Growing vegetables in raised beds isn’t a new idea but it is certainly something that seems to be catching on as a way to grow vegetables which is relatively maintenance free. Using raised beds also allow for the “organised growing” of vegetables and flowers.

The main reason for growing things in raised beds was to help with poorly draining soil. Also it creates less soil compaction, warmer soil temperature in Spring, easy access and not forgetting easy weed control.

One thing I personally like is that they look neat and tidy especially if you have a small area to work with. I am going to discuss using raised beds for vegetable growing but you can just as easily grow flowers and shrubs or a combination of everything.

Making Raised Beds for Growing Vegetables

The easiest thing to do is make your own raised beds by using  old railway sleepers or exterior grade wood as in the picture below. The object of a raised bed is to contain the soil so you can use pretty much use anything from old pallets to readymade plastic kits.

Once you have worked out your positioning you simply need to construct your raised bed. Make sure that if you are using untreated wood to treat it with some kind or preservative as this will prolong the life of the wood.

Once the frames have been constructed you will need to fill them with soil. Try to avoid using only garden soil or top soil as these will crust over and shrink away from your frames if the weather is hot, on the flip side if you have heavy rain the soil is likely to compact down.

Here’s my solution for the correct raised bed soil and it should work a treat.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho raised bed garden soil

For every 2 parts of topsoil mix in one part of organic compost matter (peat, moss, compost, etc.) and one part of sand or Perlite. Now then the Perlite and sand will handle the drainage for any excess water and the compost will help keep the soil evenly moist.

Maintaining a high level of organic compost is particularly important in  raised beds because they tend to dry out quickly. As with normal garden soil, raised beds require regular compost and lime application.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho raised bed garden mulch

Mulching is another way to help reduce water loss from the soil in raised beds.

Now that your raised beds are constructed and the soil is ready now comes the time to plant. Planting vegetables in raised beds is no different to planting them in the garden. You can still have rows if you want or you can simply plant in groups such as leafy greens in one frame, carrots and radish in other and so on.


What is raised bed organic vegetable gardening all about and why should you bother?

Before I get into that I’ll talk a bit about raised beds themselves. Raised beds are effectively “free standing” garden beds above the natural terrain of your garden or allotment.

In many areas around the world the soil you use to grow things contains too much sand or clay, or has too much alkaline in it for some plants to grow well. Added to that, your soil maybe poorly aerated due to compaction or poor drainage.

So creating raised beds for organic vegetable gardening eliminates all of the above because you can control the soil that goes into them. They are also a great time saver because changing soil that has too much sand for instance, takes time. With raised beds you simple add topsoil that is ready to accept plants or seeds.You may want to add compost to your soil from your organic compost heap to give your plants a good start.

One other bonus to creating raised beds is they are easy to maintain, a smaller amount of weeds will appear and when any do you can get rid of them easily. Now that I’ve given you an easy way to get started with raised bed organic vegetable gardening, let’s look at what you need to do first.

Planning your raised bed garden.

The first thing you need to do is decide how many raised beds you want, what size they are going to be, what they will be constructed of  and where they will be located. Remember site selection and plant selection go hand in hand. Many vegetables, ornamentals and herbs require a lot of sunlight. Any beds for these plants should be located where they will receive full sun.

If that is not possible, select a site that receives morning rather than afternoon sun. Some organic vegetables can be grown in shady areas such as broccoli, cabbage and lettuce. Also, some ornamental plants do best in partial shade.

Raised beds should also have good drainage because soil that stays wet will starve your plants of oxygen. There are a number of things you can do to improve drainage. Start by adding a course grade of Perlite to your soil and see how that does.

Now that you have the locations of your raised beds sorted out you will need to look at how you intend to construct them.


Kết quả hình ảnh cho Metal. raised bed garden

Metal edging usually comes in 4- to 6-inch(100 to120mm) wide metal strip in a variety of  lengths. These come with all the various stakes and full instructions on how to assembly them correctly.

Brick/Cinder Blocks.

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This is not a very popular way to create a raise bed but they can look architectural especially if you mix up different colour bricks.

Landscape Timbers.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Landscape Timbers raised bed garden

This is by far the most popular way of creating a raised bed. You can use railway sleepers, timber bought and stained and tree logs.

Level the perimeter of the bed so that the first layer of timbers is level or set at the desired slope. Drive rebar or galvanized spikes approximately 12 to 18 inches (300mm to 450mm) into the soil through the ends of the timbers at 20-degree angles to the centre of the timber. Overlap successive layers of timbers and nail them to the previous layer with galvanized spikes.

Pre-constructed wooden raised beds.

These are becoming more and more popular as you simply clip them together to the size you want. You can find out more about these here.

Now you have your raised bed organic vegetable garden in place all that is left is to start planting and enjoy the fruits of your labour!

How To Grow Spinach From Seed

how to grow spinach

Spinach is a fast growing plant that is grown for its highly nurtrious leaves (just ask Popeye). The leaves can be flat or wrinkled depending on what make and model you choose. The leaves can be cooked or eaten raw.

Spinach is very rich in antioxidants and vitamins. It also contains high levels of iron and calcium which we all know is good for us.

Spinach is fairly easy to grow and does best in cooler, moist conditions. Warm whether tends to encourage the older varieties of plants (Savoy) to produce seed at an early stage, so you may want to go for one of the newer varieties like Bloomsdale.

How long from sowing to harvest?

5 to 10 weeks.

Where to Plant and Soil Prep.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Spinach grow soil

Spinach prefers slight shade in hot weather. That and the fact that it crows quickly makes it an ideal crop to grow in between slower maturing crops. I personally grow in a good existing soil but you can add a low fertility soil improver if you want.

If you have poor soil then add in a medium fertility improver.

Sowing and Planting Spinach from Seed.

You need to sow Spinach seeds at intervals of about 10-14 days from early spring until early autumn. The later sowings will be OK over winter in more milder climates, otherwise you will need to cover with cloches.

An important point to remember is that the seeds will not germinate above 30 deg C (89 F).

You will need to start off in modules on the windowsill and plant out under cloches in early spring. If you’re going to grow outside sow thinly in shallow drills (push a stick to make a small hole).

Spacing should be about 15cm (6in) apart with seedlings. Seeds can be sown closer but you may need to thin out as they grow.

Caring for Spinach.

 Nothing special here. Water well in very dry weather and keep down the weeds.

Problems you may encounter when growing spinach form seed.

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The speed in which spinach grows in regards to other green leafed vegetables means it is fairly trouble free but slugs do like a nibble and also be aware of downy mildew.

Harvesting & Storage.

Now comes the good part. When they are around 5cm (2in) tall you can start picking individual leaves. When they reach 15-20 cm tall (6-8ins) you need to cut the whole plant so that you have about 2.5cm (1ins) left above ground level and they may re-sprout.

You can eat them raw, cooked or freeze them for later.

Spinach is very popular in smoothies for anyone interested in a food combining diet.