Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Cleaning up the tunnel.

The last few day I have spend tidying up the tunnel, the strawberry beds were overgrown, the tunnel pathways carpeted with suckers.
It's nice to see a cleaned bed.
I cleaned up each plant removed dozens of suckers and the beds were given a top dressing of good garden compost. It's a job I should have done last autumn but never got round to.
Quite a few of the plants already have blossom, so we might have a nice early crop.
We grow a lot of strawberries, we have four beds in total, three in the tunnel and one outside as we refuse to buy imported strawberries which are sold all year round, out of season mostly, and totally flavourless. Besides eating the fresh fruit I make quite a bit of strawberry jam and they also bottle well.
We decided we would increase the number of plants this year, so Simon has converted an old forty gallon barrel into a strawberry planter. This barrel will take fifty plants.
After heating the plastic ease the slots out to take the plants.
Firstly he marked out where the slots would go, four inches long and six inches apart, you then drill a hole so as to be able to get a small jigsaw blade in, cut the slots.
You then heat each slot with a heat gun and using a round fencing post open up the gap.
The perforated pipe will take green waste from the kitchen. just add a handful of worms.
You also need a perforated pipe in the centre either for watering or as a worm composter, we will use it for composting with worms which should give lots of good compost for the strawberry plants. You also need a few drainage holes close to the bottom of the barrel to stop it becoming waterlogged and a good layer of gravel. I would have liked the outside of the barrel covered with gravel for aesthetic purpose, but to get the gravel to stick you have to use a lot of PVA, so it will remain white,
by the time the strawberries have grown most of the barrel should be covered anyway.
Happy looking peach tree.
The peach tree in the tunnel is covered in blooms, the most we have ever had, unfortunately there are no bees or other pollinators around so the flowers will have to be hand pollinated. Not all these flowers will be allowed to develop, they would make too much weight for the branches to hold as we found out two years ago when we lost the top third of the tree due to excess weight. The lemon tree is also a mass of blooms, maybe it's going to be a good fruit year.
Eyes left.
Eyes right.
The wild birds are all busy sorting out partners including these beautiful swans, but I've not seen any nest building yet,
however the frogs have been busy and have laid a mass of spawn in our pond,
Lots of spawn.
as we lost Daffy duck this spawn should stand a good chance of reaching maturity and bless us with lots of little frogs,  we certainly have enough slugs for them to eat.
This polyanthus is much darker than it appears in the photo. 
Each time I walk around the garden I find something new in bloom, but I do suspect that we have lost a fair few bulbs due to all the rain we have had.


  1. I love your strawberry planter. I need to empty mine and refill it this year

    1. We had no plans to increase our strawberry supply until a friend mentioned how well hers produced, I was not into buying one, I far prefer to recycle things so a little bit of Googling and we came up with what we wanted. It remains to be seen how well it produces for us.

  2. Nice blog. Not a frog egg to be seen here yet. Not a frog either. Might have to try the strawberries in the tunnel thing.

    1. Thanks Matt. I though we had given you strawberry plants for your tunnel? If you need more plants we have three different types. I was very pleased to see the frogs spawn, I suspect my poor Daffy had eaten them in the past so these should survive.

  3. Sadly, we are tunnelless, but I look forward to planting strawberries this year. Tips for growing outside?

    It´s so wet, I´ll probably not plant anything until June. :(

    1. Hi Cole, We found the best way to grow strawberries in Spain was through black polythene, both the builders merchants and the agricultural store(in Barella) sold it by the m and it comes in various widths, I'm sure there would be somewhere close to you where you can buy it. The advantage is no weeds, retains the moisture around the plants and keeps the fruit clean, disadvantage habitat for slugs but easy to control with bird friendly slug pellets or beer traps. The farmers market in Lugo would sell bundles of plants. Place the plastic over the strawberry bed area and dig in the sides so it doesn't blow away. Cut a cross about two to three inches tuck the spare bits under then plant the plants in the hole. Now is a good time to get the plants in the ground so they can establish before the heat arrives.

  4. I'd love to have a tunnel (or the room to put one) though probably dont need it with our climate. All "real" gardeners have a tunnel, dont they? Your strawberry drum is a bit of crafty repurposing, me thinks. Awesome effort and it will look good when it fully grown.

    Goodness, who keeps an eye on frog spawn? Perhaps i would if i had a pond too. Are you getting the message? I need more land. I want an eco system going on. I suppose i do in a small way but i want yours, AND you live in Ireland. Im so jealous.

    Don't you just love YouTube for learning things.

    1. I guess in Australia a shade tunnel would be useful, I think all gardens build up their own eco systems if chemicals aren't used.

    2. You are right, as always.

      I do have lots of lovely worms and with my period of neglect the garden is still doing well. Im still picking lots of tomatoes and last night ate one straight off the bush. My guest said "shouldnt you wash them first". "Why, they are natural, no sprays or dust, just fresh tomatoes" is said, and popped in another one.

  5. I guess your guest is used to buying from the supermarket!

  6. Really interesting post. The barrel conversion into a strawberry planter is a great idea. Hope it brings you lots of strawberries! Looks like you have both been very busy x