Strawberries and summer fruiting raspberries have hopefully provided you with a bountiful crop of delicious fruit this summer. Both will benefit from some care now.
Strawberries should have any straw mulch removed from around them, as it can harbour pest and disease – putting it on your compost heap is fine. Now shear off as much old foliage and fruited stems as you can, just above the crown of the plant where you will see fresh leaves emerging. This will encourage the new growth and allow a good air flow around each plant. Most strawberries send out ‘runners’ with new baby strawberry plants growing along them. This is a great way to propagate your best plants for future use, simply peg them down and they will root. They can then be moved to a newly prepared bed. This is especially useful technique as strawberry plants only crop well for 3-4 years.
Summer fruiting raspberries should also be tackled now, by cutting out any fruited stems, right down to the ground. New stems should be restricted to about 6 per plant and tied to their support. These will be your fruiting stems for next year. Any healthy suckers which appear outside the rows can be dug up and replanted in a fresh spot – new plants for free!
Brassicas such as Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Curly Kale, and winter Cabbage can be planted now. We sell a wide range of pack-grown plants which should be planted in good, non-acidic soil, 45cm-60cm apart and watered in well. Apart from keeping pigeons and Cabbage White butterflies off of them (netting is the best option) they should pretty much look after themselves throughout autumn.
To keep your hanging basket and container bedding plants looking good throughout the august heat, feed once a week with a high potash food such as Tomato food and deadhead regularly. Well hydrated plants are less prone to disease and pests, and deadheading encourages new buds to form. Really straggly plants can be trimmed back now and this will prolong flowering in the long run.
Large pots of instant colour are available in the seasonal plant house now.
August is the right time to start thinking about autumn planting of bedding such as Primroses, violas Pansies, Cyclamen, and spring flowering Bellis Daisy, Forget me Not and Wallflowers. Plan your space now so you can buy them in tip top condition as they arrive in store, along with your spring flowering bulbs.