Monday, 5 May 2014

Strawberries were almost on the way out...

You'll have to wait for the Malta updates yet I'm afraid, as I still haven't uploaded my pics.  Instead I bring you my overwintered strawberries.

Before I went to Malta in mid-March I saw this!  My first strawberry was appearing after all my strawberries had been overwintering in the greenhouse.  I had several flower heads appear in December but they were too cold to set fruit.

As you may notice looking closely at the flower head stalk above the fruiting one, my poor strawberries have been overrun by aphids.  When I returned from Malta the green foliage was mostly brown on all of my plants and this strawberry was nowhere to be seen.

Excuse the weeds between the slabs please - not got to weeding this part of the garden yet
I've had the strawberries sitting outside for about a week now, trying to get the greenfly away from the rest of my greenhouse.  They've been looking steadily worse each day and I decided yesterday it was time to let go.  So as I went to throw them out I of course saw new growth appearing in all of them!

I decided to prune down all the dead and dying foliage to allow the new growth a chance.  Pretty much all of them look like this now.  I left some old stalks as I didn't want to risk cutting too close to the new growth.

I left flowers on some, as most still had flowers, but I pruned them off the ones that didn't look like they were going to survive anyway.

I also treated them with a nice organic pest deterrent.   I've heard garlic and chilli combined are supposed to ward of particularly aphids, but apparently most insects.  Be careful not to go too far with the garlic, because it can put off beneficial insects too.  Hubby had just so happened to have made a fresh batch of pureed garlic, ginger and chilli paste for culinary use.  I used just about 1/3 of a teaspoon in a spray bottle, topped it up with water and shook it up.  I sprayed all of the strawberries and poured some directly over the worst aphid infested plants.  They are still alive today (the plants that is) but I've noticed there are certainly less greenfly hanging on.  Hopefully if I continue to treat them this way they'll leave my poor strawberries alone.  I see now why strawberries are considered the most pesticide-exposed fruits in the supermarket.

Anyone else find strawberries to be an aphid-magnet?  Are some varieties more susceptible than others?  Where are all the ladybirds this year?


  1. I haven't had much of a problem with aphids attacking Strawberries, but everything else does - slugs, squirrels, birds (especailly the Blackbirds, which are a presistent menace round here.)
    Like you, I had flowers on my Alpine Strawberries in December / January, but they didn't produce fruit.

    1. They're starting to get a lot more new flowers now, which I'm assuming is a good sign. It's funny because I did find a snail inside one of the pots but the least it could have done was eat the greenfly instead of the plants (don't even know if that's possible). Thinking of trying out some different varieties next year, as only grown alpines thus far.

  2. We had some early strawberry flowers but the cold blackened the centres, maybe strawberries suffer aphid attack more when they are indoors.

    1. Perhaps, I've only very recently put them outside. They've been in the greenhouse the rest of the time they've been growing for. I've heard about the cold blackening the centres, however over the winter in the greenhouse they just stayed yellow and didn't develop into fruits.

    2. Maybe lack of pollination - did you try hand pollinating as there would be few insects about to do the job, Sometimes poor pollination leads to strange shaped fruits too,

    3. I didn't try to pollinate them because I thought the cold wouldn't allow them to produce during winter. I will try to hand pollinate the latest flowers though! Thanks for the suggestion

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