STRAWBERRIES are in the same plant family - Rosaceae - as roses, apples, pears and stone fruit. That is one impressive family tree!
If you love eating fresh strawberries or using them in irresistible desserts like cheesecake, pavlova and trifle, you'll be familiar with how expensive they can often be to buy in the supermarket and how quickly they can turn to grey mush once you get them home. So, it's time to trying growing your own strawberries so you can have these delicious berries right at your back door.
Strawberry crowns or runners can be planted during July in cool and temperate areas. In warmer zones look for potted strawberries to plant during winter.
If you're planning a berry patch it's important to choose a spot that is well-drained and enrich the soil first to create the best growing environment.
Before planting your strawberries in a sunny position, mix some Dynamic Lifter into the soil. It's a concentrated and pelletised blend of manure, blood and bone, fishmeal and seaweed which helps improve soil quality and water holding ability and encourages earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms.
Strawberries are also a perfect potted plant and look fantastic in hanging baskets, "strawberry pots" and troughs.
Keep the new strawberry plants well watered and once new growth emerges, start feeding each week with a complete plant food.
Mulching around strawberry plants with lucerne, pea or sugar cane straw not only helps to keep the soil moist, it will also lead to cleaner berries
Leaf curl preventative action
Distorted and discoloured foliage on stone fruit trees including peaches, nectarines and plums is caused by a fungal disease called leaf curl.
The tree ends up looking awful and in severe cases it reduces the tree's ability to photosynthesise, which in turn can affect plant health and fruit yield.
Leaf curl disease spores lurk in bark crevices and around leaf buds during winter, waiting to infect the newly-emerging foliage in late winter and early spring.
It is a disease that needs to be prevented by killing the disease spores before they infect the new leaves, as the damage done by leaf curl is irreversible.
To break the leaf curl disease cycle, spray stone fruit trees during winter with lime sulfur.
Lime sulfur will also control other diseases like freckle, rust and shot hole which hide on fruit tree stems during winter.
Spray all stems and the trunk thoroughly before new foliage emerges. This will help give fruit trees a disease-free start to spring so they can concentrate on giving you a fantastic harvest.
Just say no
Keep your garden clean and green, and maximise the vitamin content of your vegetables by feeding your soil with plenty of compost and not spraying with glyphosate products.
New research suggests these toxic chemicals not only interfere with the mineral content of food but can contribute to health problems.
Garlic sprays, squashing bugs, bird and bug nets and bags are all natural ways to keep your garden pest-free.
Healthy plants are also more resistant to attack so feed that soil.