Rain, forcing strawberries and I found a frog


Yesterday morning, amid the boom of crow scarers (they never mention those in films about the countryside) and the clamour of a cat really wanting in was the tinny voice from the radio, warning of doom and gloom in the distance. Rain, rain, rain allll afternoon, they said. So, yesterday was one of those days where I was rushing around, trying to blitz whatever chore I was doing and never wandering too far from the nearest form of shelter. I did get a lot done though:

The flat shrubby thing that I was trying sooo hard to ignore has gone. Don't feel bad for it. It was half rotten and taking up valuable fruit-growing wall space and it fought back with thin whippy branches and tough tangled roots. It's carpet of very pretty but invasive bluebells has been re-located somewhere safe, together with the frog that appeared when I prised out the knot of root tangles. My 'Peregrine' peach now finally has a home, having been plopped in one of the plastic pots and largely forgotten except for watering times (photos will follow, but it's sulking now and looks well boring. Here's a frog instead).


 The coriander, or cilantro seedlings have finally come up. These in the pots will be used sparingly and most likely will be strategically placed on our table to arouse admiring ooos and ahhs from guests. To meet actual demand, I've invested in a whole row of purple basil and cilantro mixed together. Planted next to carrots, this lovely mix will hopefully overpower the smell of any broken roots or bruised foliage enough to prevent the carrot flies from ever finding them.


'Honeyoe' strawberries with fruits already forming. Forcing strawberries sounds painful and sadistic but it's very easy if you've got a greenhouse or cold frame. Lift plants in early winter and pot them up (I used an old colander as you can see below), remembering to water them from time to time. Strawberry plants are super-hardy and they need to experience some cold weather, so use this as a guide on when to lift (i.e. do it after snow or freezing temperatures). They should start to flower several weeks before plants that have been left in the ground outside but they do need to be pollinated so either get personal with a paintbrush or pop them outside during the day for the bees. Feed every two weeks or so with tomato feed as this has the nutrients which promote ample flowering and fruit but don't get carried away, better too little than too much.

 When strawberries attack; the predassors of this plant arrived on my door-step as a bundle of innocent looking roots. Three years on and they'd thrived and divided themselves, throwing out runners and growing everywhere. When the situation was taken into hand I'd given everyone in the immediate area plants but there was one final clump left. I'd long since run out of pots but did have a one receptical in the back of the cupboard. It was large enough, I'd never used it and it did have excellent drainage.

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