Gentle Reader, this very morning I turned my Susan Branch calendar (Susan is one of my favourite people, an artist, a writer, and blogger) for it is June! Soon, there will be strawberries for tea. I had plants last year, but they did not survive the winter. I coddled them too well and, apparently, they are hardier than I thought. It seems I should have left them to fend for themselves, and I feel rather silly over this because I leave the tiny Alpine ones to their own devices whatever the winter weather throws at them, and it has been this way for many years and they thrive! Why did I think the bigger plants were less hardy? Gardening is often a very steep learning curve!
Three weeks ago, I salvaged five small runners that survived from last year's strawberry plants and I potted them up in an old Greek style pot that was lying empty. I keep an eye out, for there may be more on the old berry patch. Plants can suddenly return to life when you think they are long dead. That is a peculiarity I am learning to be mindful of, everything gets a second chance, and I throw nothing out now until I am certain it is dead!
Looking at the pot each day as I pass by there doesn't seem to be much change. However, putting the photo I took the day I potted the runners in, on May 8th (top), and one I took today (bottom), you can see that there are quite a few more leaves and the plants are establishing (which takes time) and starting to grow. It is, after all, only three weeks ago.
You might also notice there are some tiny buds! These, with gentle rain and good, warm, and sunny days, will become the strawberries that I love to eat, freshly picked in oh! so many ways: with cream, or sliced in a sugar syrup served over fudgy chocolate cake, in home made yogurt, or just as they are, picked warm from the plant as I garden . . such a delicious treat!
Today, a small box came in the post containing six more young plants that I ordered over the Bank Holiday weekend. They do not look very happy, and I am a little concerned, but then I don't think I would be very happy at all if I had travelled through the post in a dark box for four days, would you?
Once unpacked I can see there is sturdy growth in the centre of each small plantlet, and the root system is established, so I potted them up immediately.
Did you see my potting bench? This is where I do most of my potting up. The bench was made by my Daddy, and he used it for his carpentry work. Sadly, it is now outside, and the elements are not kind to it, but I have no where else to keep it. I have moved it into a shady spot, against the east facing wall of my cottage. Here I can work in the afternoon, for the wall of the cottage gives me shade from the sun which at midday passes over the roof and then beats down on the west facing side. I try to work on the other side of the house during the morning, when I have time. This suits me not to be working in bright sunshine, and it suits the plants too, for I am certain it is not easy on their little systems being shunted from one pot to another, and the cooler the better I think.
My rainwater barrel, which harvests rainwater from the rooftop, is right by my side too, so that saves having to carry heavy watering cans from the tap. Here is the bench all ready with compost and pots ready to receive the strawberry plantlets.
and now they are in having a good, long soak in this tub of water . .
They seem happier now they are planted up. I have every faith that they will settle in well and soon there will be strawberries for tea. All we need is for the weather to improve now that it is June. They say we are a month behind and that April was one of the coldest Aprils on record. I do not think May will be declared a warm month either! Three weeks and the longest day will be upon us, so I am praying for steadier andwarmer temperatures, plenty of golden sunshine during the days and gentle rain in the night . . oh! would that not be simply perfect weather, everything the garden, and I, need to thrive!