My poor strawberry bed has been bursting out of its box after this summer, when I failed dismally to keep up with the sprouting runners which have by now rooted and grown away merrily. I do hate pulling up good strawb plants, and lots of people don’t bother and end up with a good ground cover of tightly-packed strawberry plants instead. I don’t like the randomness of that – control freak that I am – and prefer to keep an eye on how long my strawberry plants have been going for. I try to grow plants for three years only and then propagate them in the third year to replant afresh. That’s impossible if you don’t know which year your strawberry plants started off! I also have a suspicion that letting your plants spend all their energy making new babies rather than producing strawberries doesn’t make a lot of sense.

This is the first of three beds I’m sowing with strawbs – I have 8′ by 4′ raised beds across the width of the allotment, so the idea is that I have an early crop, a mid-season crop and a late crop. This lot are the mid-season ones, a variety called “Cambridge Favourite” – a reliable stalwart beloved by most strawberry growers as it’s easy-going and not too fussy, and produces good crops of really good-flavoured fruit.

I’m just waiting for the new edition of the Organic Gardening Catalogue (http://www.organiccatalog.com/catalog/) and then I’ll order in the next lot, which I think will be earlies this time. I think I’m going to go for “Honeyeoye” – it’s supposed to be very early indeed, and though “Rosie” has better flavour I’m put off by the number of diseases it’s prone to catching!

Allotment September 2006Here’s what the allotment looks like at the moment – more and more of it has been put down for the winter now, and I’ve got three beds down to grazing rye (and a fourth cleared and ready to be double-dug this winter). Still cropping beans, courgettes and potatoes, though – and looks remarkably chipper given it’s the end of the year.