Posts Tagged ‘growing strawberries’

The 5 Best Crops for Your Edible Container Garden

May 3rd, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

5 Best Crops for Your Edible Container Garden

Growing some or even all of your crops in containers offers greater flexibility – and opportunities too. You can grow edibles in pots that you can’t in your soil, easily move frost-tender plants under cover when it gets cold, or perhaps use containers to make the most of a suntrap patio.

Most edibles can be grown in pots, but it got us thinking – if we had to pick five of the best crops to grow this way, what would they be? It’s a tough one, but we’ve given it a go. Read on or watch the video to find out more.

1. Strawberries

Let’s start with something sweet and tempting – juicy strawberries! Who doesn’t love the prospect of freshly-picked berries, ripened to perfection for maximum flavour?

As well as pots, try growing them in guttering, hanging baskets or purpose-bought strawberry planters too. They need a nutrient-rich, moisture-retentive potting soil to really thrive. For best results, mix some organic fertiliser into the potting soil before planting.

Container-grown strawberries should escape the attention of most slugs, but you might still have to protect developing fruits from birds. Make sure birds can’t get under any netting you use. A mulch of straw or gravel will help to keep the fruits clean and the root zone cool and moist.

2. Tomatoes

stockier bush types and smaller tumbling varieties of tomato are easy to grow in containers because they don’t need any pruning or pinching out as they grow

Grow tomatoes in tubs and pots for an at-the-ready supply of fruits bursting with taste. Like strawberries they need lots of nutrients, consistent moisture and, of course, sunshine if they are to ripen their fruits in a timely fashion.

All types of tomato can be grown in pots, but stockier bush types and smaller tumbling varieties are easiest because they don’t need any pruning or pinching out as they grow. Tumbling tomatoes can even be grown in hanging baskets. Plant a few marigolds with your tomatoes – they’ll add some colour and their scent is said to help to repel aphids. Use a potting mix that includes some added loam, which will help it hold moisture for longer.

Closely related aubergine and peppers are also great candidates for container growing.

3. Salad Leaves

Salad leaves are both quick and easy to grow, and because they’re shallow-rooted, make the perfect pick for a container crop. The whole plant can be harvested at once or as cut-and-come-again leaves, picked as and when you need them over several weeks.

Extend the harvest by sowing a new pot of salad leaves every 3-4 weeks. Towards the end of the season, protect the plants with row covers or move the pots into a cold frame to keep the leaves coming for even longer.

Sow a mixture of leaves for a range of leaf shapes, colours and textures. Lettuce is the obvious choice, joined by the likes of rocket, mizuna and mustard. Pots of other salad staples, including radish and spring onion, are natural partners to your leafy lovelies.

4. Carrots

Carrots are great for growing in tall containers to protect them from dreaded pests like carrot flySmaller varieties of carrot are exceptional crunched raw as part of a salad or lightly steamed to preserve their sweet taste. They’re just the job for tall containers because growing them this way means they’re less likely to be attacked by their low-flying nemesis, the carrot fly.

Sow carrots throughout spring and summer, starting the season with a hardier, early variety. Mixing the tiny seeds with sand will help to space them out as you sow, though it’s likely some thinning of the seedlings will still be necessary. Harvest finger-sized roots in stages, taking the biggest first so that those left can continue to grow.

5. Chard

Our fifth container crop is chard – a prolific leafy vegetable with a very long harvest period, making it exceptionally hard working for the space it occupies. Varieties come in a range of truly spectacular stem colours that almost appear to glow against the light. Chard isn’t just productive, it’s a bit of a head-turner too!

Sow chard directly into containers from spring, or start them off in plug trays to plant as seedlings. Plants should end up at least 6 inches (15cm) apart. You should be able to pick your first leaves about three months after sowing. Pick little and often to encourage more leaves to follow. Looked after well, chard can potentially crop until well into autumn, and in milder areas throughout the winter.

Caring for Container Crops

Container crops don’t have a very extensive root system, so you’ll need to keep plants hydrated in dry weather, watering up to twice a day in summer. Nourish plants with liquid fertiliser during the growing season. Tomato feed that’s high in potassium is good for both tomatoes and strawberries, while a general-purpose feed such as liquid seaweed is suitable for most other potted crops. Direct sunshine is almost always welcomed, but leafy salads and chard may prefer a shadier aspect in relentlessly hot conditions.

So that’s our top five crops for pots – we hope you’re tempted to grow at least a few of them! What are your favourite edibles to grow in containers? Comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Growing soft fruits for Beginners

March 1st, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

In a few weeks fruit bushes will be bursting into leaf, ready to start a new season of delicious abundance.

Many soft fruits are both heavy cropping and surprisingly easy to grow; and when you consider how much it costs to buy them in the shop, there is every reason to grow them!

If you have never tried growing fruits before, watch this video, it will show you how to grow soft fruits for beginners.

Mr-Fothergills-growing-soft-fruits-for-beginners-strawberries

Strawberries

With so many varieties you could be picking fruits from spring all the way through to autumn.

Strawberries will crop the first summer of the planting, and because they aren’t woody plants, the only pruning they need is pruning back the leaves after fruiting.

Fruits that lie on bare sole can rot, you can protect them by laying straw around them when they begin to flower. You can even enjoy a late crop of strawberries by protecting them with row covers or cloches.

 

Raspberries

There are two types of raspberries: summer fruiting and autumn fruiting or fall bearing .  Autumn fruiting raspberries are the easiest to grow because they only need minimal support to stop them flopping over. Pruning couldn’t be easier too. Simply cut back on the old canes in late winter, ready for new canes to replace them in spring. Autumn fruiting raspberries produces a steady supply of berries from late summer to the first frosts.

 

Blackberries and Hybrid Berries

Most modern varieties are thornless and their fruits tend to be bigger and sweeter than their wilder counterparts. The canes are vigorous and generally trouble-free. Simply tie them to support to maintain order and cut out old canes to encourage new growth.

Hybrid berries such as boysenberry or tayberry are the result of a cross between the blackberry and other cane fruits; often raspberry or another hybrid. The result are tasty berries, all easy to grow and all juicy and delicious.

 

Mr-Fothergills-growing-soft-fruits-for-beginners-currantsCurrants

With red, white and black currant to choose from you’re immediately spoilt for choice. All currants crop well, producing heavily laid in clusters or streaks of currant to eat fresh, use into sauces or turn into jam or jelly. They also go wonderfully with apples in pies!

Red and white currants prefer cooler climates and will even grow well in shade. If you got a sweet tooth, opt for white currants. Which tend to be a little sweeter than reds.

Blackcurrants require very little care. They even crop when neglected; But prune them in winter to remove some of the older branches, and you will encourage a lot of new, healthy growth and plenty of fruits.

 

Gooseberries

They are near to indestructible and will strive in any soil, though it prefers cooler climates and some shelter from the wind. You can choose between culinary varieties and desert varieties.

Gooseberries will produce their fruits even when neglected, but if you show some care by feeding, pruning and mulching, you will have many fruits to enjoy every summer.

They have been some restrictions for growing gooseberries and currants in the United States. The reason is that they served as intermediary host for the white pine blister rust disease, which is fatale to white pines. Thankfully, modern breedings created varieties resistant to the disease and restrictions have been lifted in most states. However, there are still some restrictions in some area, so make sure to check the situation where you live before planting.

 

General care

Generally, soft fruits require less space than trees, and are quicker to reach maturity, so you won’t have to wait long before your first pickings. Container growing soft fruits can be planted at any time of year, while bare root fruits are best planted from late Winter to early spring; or in milder climates from autumn onwards.

Keep your soft fruits striving by watering thoroughly once a week in dry weather, especially in the first year.

In spring, top up with mulch, such as compost, to help feed the plants, while improving soil structure. Lay it at least a couple of inches or 5cm thick, taking care to keep it clear of the canes or trunks of the plant.

You may find birds like your fruits as much as you do. Netting or a walk-in fruit cage will keep them off.

While soft fruits are delicious eaten fresh, most currants and berries can also easily be frozen or dried, to enjoy later in the year.

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you grow soft fruits for the first time. If you are already growing fruits let us know which ones in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page and tell us what you would recomend for beginners.

Strawberries: Choose and Grow the Best Tasting Strawberries

March 23rd, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Strawberry Buddy - Growing Strawberries Homegrown strawberries are indulgent and delicious – they’re always nice and easy to grow! This post will look at the best types of strawberry to grow and the best way to grow them. 

  • If you choose a range of strawberry varieties and you could be picking fresh fruits from late spring – all the way to autumn. Start with early season varieties, followed by mid season and then finally late season strawberries. Alternatively, you can grow everbearing strawberries, these yield fruits in smaller quantities from early summer to autumn.
  • If you’re going to be making jam with your strawberries then it’s best to choose varieties that produce a lot of strawberries in one go.
  • Alpine strawberries are a lower maintenance alternative, they can be left to sprawl between ornamentals and will naturally self-seed. Their fruits are tiny – but offer an intense aromatic taste.
  • Strawberries love rich soil! Be sure to add plenty of organic matter to your compost before planting.
  • Strawberries can grow in impartial shade but will have lower yields. So, sunny positions are preferable.
  • Plant strawberries, so that the base of the crown is at soil level and space them around 18 – 24 inches apart. Allowing plenty of room for weeding, watering and picking.
  • Strawberries grow very well in containers filled with quality potting soil, they can be planted a little closer together but you’ll need to water your plants a little more frequently as they’ll dry out rapidly. Fruit is less likely to be damaged by slugs.
  • For an extra early variety, cover them with cloche or polyethene tunnel from the end of winter. Once the plants come into flower, remove the covers on warm days – this will allow insect pollinators access. This could offer you a crop up to three weeks earlier.
  • Keep plants well watered in dry weather, so that the fruits can swell to a good size. Plants undercover may need more water.
  • Stop mud from splashing onto developing fruits by laying down strawberry mats shortly after planting. Alternatively, use a mulch which will lock in moisture whilst keeping fruits clean. Straw is the traditional choice – hence the name strawberries!!

These are just a few top tips for picking strawberry varieties and growing them. If you’d like to find out more, the video below has more tips and advice. We’d love any ideas you have for growing strawberries – let us know in the comments or on our social media.

If you’d like to see our varieties of strawberries, you can find them here on the Mr Fothergill’s website.

Strawberries: Choose and Grow the Best Tasting Strawberries

 

Growing Strawberries: How to Grow New Strawberry Plants from Runners [video]

August 8th, 2016 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Lindsay Devon Strawberries - Growing StrawberriesHomegrown strawberries are perfect for summer and it’s easier than expected to make more of this delicious, juicy fruit. Strawberry plants have long stalks, called runners and these can be used to grow more young strawberry plants, making the initial investment in stock plants very cost effective indeed.  This video will run through advice on growing strawberries from runners.

  • Established strawberry plants will send out multiple runners over the soil surface. Each of these has tiny plantlets along it’s length. These can be rooted, established and then planted on to create new strawberry plants.
  • Runners take a lot of energy from the plant to grow. Within the first two years of life they should be cut off from where they emerge, leaving the mother plant concentrating on fruit production.
  • Year three and the runners can become useful. When looking at them, you may already be able to see the roots forming underneath as they reach down for the soil where they have landed. Peg these plantlets into the ground or containers to help them more firmly establish themselves.
  • After a few months, the plantlet will have begun growing new leaves, at this point it’s important to cut it free from the parent plant.
  • Strawberries become less productive over time, therefore growing new plants from runners every three to four years will keep your strawberry patch renewed and will ensure you have a constant harvest of strawberries.
  • For best results, plant new strawberry plants in fresh soil different to the previous year’s patch.

These are just a few tips and tricks on growing strawberries from the runners of your current plants. If you’ve ever used this method and have any further tips please do let us know in the comments below or on social media. 

Growing Strawberries: How to Grow New Strawberry Plants from Runners