Once in spring or summer we tidy the permanent berry bed. We have strawberries and blueberries in together because they enjoy the same conditions – sunny to dappled light (in fact bluberries don’t mind the shade so long as it’s not crazydark), medium water with a bit extra when berries are plumping, and shaded roots.
🍓Berry tidy routine
Here are the routine things we do for this bed, then we pretty much leave it be. Not a big deal, and takes about an hour, tops. This isn’t the big end-of-summer cleanup, just maintenance.
- Remove old stuff – leaves, stems and damaged fruit from strawberries, and snip off any damaged blueberry branches.
- Treat them with a good handful or two of ‘blood n bone’ or ‘Dynamic Lifter’ (or you own favourite fruit food), and a handful of potash for fruit development – amounts vary but this is for our bed, pictured. Water in.
- Slugs n bugs love berries too, but this routine mostly makes them feel unwelcome. Just in case, I do sprinkle iron-based slug pellets around the strawberries (under the mulch) just this once in the year, which seems to be enough.
- Mulch around plants to hold the leaves more upright and fruit off the ground. We use pine needles because we have plenty here – and they are acidic, which helps to keep the soil profile just how berries like it. If you don’t have that, then straw is fine. Don’t compress the mulch down tight, cause the air layer is handy.
- Deep watering with an upside down soaker hose is my favourite way in the garden, cause I can set it on a timer and go do another job. It is a little at a time, so doesn’t ‘flood and run’. I pin the soaker down on top of mulch with turf pins, in a spiral from outside to the middle. The hose connector sticks out at a corner so I can attach the hose. I always add a cheap filter so muck from the hose doesn’t fill the soaker over time. These are years old and work a treat every year in every bed. Upside down is ideal because there is no evap’ loss to the air, and some plants (eg. tomatoes) don’t like the water on their leaves.
That’s it. Seriously, we don’t fuss over the berries. Besides this quick job, the only other thing is in late Autumn to give them a pull-through and put them to bed over winter. We will do another story on that later.
🥅 Nets off, and on.
With nets so fine now, how can the pollinators get in?
We have a routine of leaving the net on to let a batch of strawberries ripen, then picking them all at once. With no red beacons to tempt the birds, we pull the net aside for a few days to pollinate the next lot of flowers freely. Pretty soon, the strawberries are responding with a boom and bust berry cycle that works pretty well. No ultra red berries to temp the birds, but free range time to give pollinators good access.
Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿