A Fruitful Year

It seems as though we are hurtling through the year at quite a speed; it is already the middle of August and we are enjoying the bountiful gluts of courgettes, beans and tomatoes here in Sissinghurst Castle’s vegetable garden. Just a month ago it seemed as though there were not enough hours in the day to pick all of the soft fruit we had growing and ripening on our patch – glorious gooseberries, sumptuous strawberries, radiant raspberries and countless currants.

Now their season is over for another year and it is time to prepare for next year’s harvest by pruning the bushes to increase their production for next year. We summer pruned the gooseberry, white currant and red currant bushes at the end of July, and these will need some more attention over the winter months with a more drastic prune to encourage spring growth. The raspberry canes have finished producing and can soon be cut right back to the ground, making space for the fresh new stems to be tied in to the wires. The blackcurrants will not be pruned until the winter when the plants are dormant.

This week, however, we have been tackling the strawberry beds. At Sissinghurst we grow a variety called ‘Honeoye’ which crops abundantly in June.

The Strawberry patch before cutting back.

The Strawberry patch before cutting back.

Now that fruiting has ceased the plants need to have their runners removed to reduce the amount of energy the plant is putting into making new plants, to concentrate their energies into becoming stronger plants. We removed all the runners and planted some back into the row where there had been gaps. Any spare runners were potted up and will be used to create a new strawberry bed next spring.

Strawberry runners potted up.

Strawberry runners potted up.

Once the runners had been tidied up we cut back the foliage of the plants left in the ground to about 10cm above the crown and removed the debris. This is done for two reasons; firstly to encourage new, healthy leaves to come through, and secondly to reduce pests and disease by taking away the old foliage.

Although it looks a little harsh, pruning the strawberries this way should encourage stronger, healthier plants and hopefully we will be overwhelmed with a bumper crop of delicious red strawberries again next year.

Selling our strawberries at Sissinghurst.

Selling our strawberries at Sissinghurst.

 

Helen Silver (vegetable plot gardener)

4 thoughts on “A Fruitful Year

    • Thank you Dan. I think that you will find that your alpine strawberries do not put on so many runners as many of their larger relatives will, and therefore you will want to treat them a little differently. On the whole, alpine strawberries can be left to do as they please, but will decline in productivity after a couple of years. Therefore I would recommend buying some young plants or having a go at growing some more from seed in the spring of next year so that you have continuous cropping each year. Hopefully next year will see a bumper crop for you! Helen.

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      • Hi Helen. Appreciate your advice. I’ve been inspecting my plants tonight and they are in flower again, so hopefully we may get a few more berries before the year is out. Lovely visit to your vegetable garden at the weekend – most envious of all the wonderful courgettes. Dan

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  1. (thanks for commenting, I’m awed)
    My London-born mother raised me on stories of Sissinghurst. I have her copy of Vita’s book. When we visited your garden years ago, I was disconcerted to realise that our visit was scheduled for ‘Now, or will you have tea first?’
    I have a tiny white garden, but mine is mostly South African plants with 2 surviving white roses. An echo of the Lime Walk underplanted with flowering bulbs in Lachenalia rubida beneath our ash trees.

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