The Sunday Gardener's Blog

Botrytis and growing strawberries

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This time of year is like a weather prison, looking outside is the image right, very wet. Yesterday I went out into the garden,  thinking to do some weeding, when I realised the ground was still frozen from the severe overnight frost. Today, it is just pouring with rain and the ground saturated. 

At this time of year there its all about looking forward and I was cheered up when my strawberry plants arrived from T & M, (who at the time this was published had a sale on Strawberry plants)  and I have purchased three types, 'Cambridge' a mid season, 'Flamenco' all season and 'Florence' late season which should keep us going nicely. They are bare rooted plants and if you are busying bare rooted plants first check the roots to make sure all is good and clean, but dry, and most bare rooted plants need a good soaking first before planting.

Bare rooted plants can be planted out if the conditions are suitable, but since the garden is either a bog or a skating rink at present, I will opt to pot them up in the greenhouse and plant out in the spring. 

Strawberry plants don't last for ever, after 2/3 years, their yield diminishes and it is time to think about replacement. This can be done by new plants or runners which can be taken from healthy plants. For cultivation tips and information on growing strawberries. 

This time of year botrytis, commonly called grey mould, is a problem in the greenhouse, and coincidentally it can be a problem for strawberries. 

Weather Prison

Botrytis

botrytis-cleared-away

Strawberry and-Botrytis 310

Botrytis is a fungus and it develops in greenhouses and under glass where the air is still and damp in the winter, humid in the summer and outside in the veg plot on fruit such as strawberries, grapes and gooseberries. If you are gardening organically, all you can do is cut off infected parts of the plant. In the greenhouse Botrytis can settle onto many different types of plants, in the summer it tends to go for fruits. 

 

Botrytis is recognisable by its characturistic fuzzy grey mould, and if you look a the  video  - when my finger brushes the plant to the left you will see a cloud of mould drifting away. This cloudy shower is very typical of grey mould, if you touch the plant it showers everywhere.  The next image shows the plant where I have cut off and cleaned away all infected parts. The plants in the basket are hardy geraniums, this variety is very tough , I think it will survive the attack. 

However, some plants can be badly affected, soft fruits are often a target, and strawberries are susceptible. Last year, partly because of the humid weather I had real problems with Botrytis on strawberries and I know from e mails into the web site I was not alone. All you can do is keep clearing away the infected leaves and fruit, but it halved my crop.  The other reason was because my strawberry plants were getting elderly, more susceptible to disease. 

So this year to avoid it Botrytis I am using new plants and moving the strawberry bed, as the infection has probably built up in the soil and will overwinter. As part of crop rotation, most crops move around the vegetable plot each year, with strawberries I will move the bed for the next few years until the problem reoccurs.

If you find your strawberry plants are not producing very well it may be time to replace them. You can make some new plants from runners but from time to time it is good to introduce new plants. If Botrytis was a problem you may need to replace plants and if you have been growing in the same spot for some time, plant into a different part of the veg plot or garden. 

It maybe that it's just too wet underfoot to do much in the garden, I can  make best use of the greenhouse,  pot up my strawberry plants, and look forward to a spring planting.

 

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