Feeding strawberries and fruit bushes

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  charles 12 years, 1 month ago.

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    Dear Charles,

    I manured all my fruit (raspberries-summer and autumn–red and black currents and gooseberries) in November. So far I have done nothing with my strawberries. Now–I know you are meant to save the first runners, start new plants and cut off the excess runners, but somehow although I have meant to do this, never managed it, so runners go everywhere.

    We replanted a strawberry bed about 5 years ago (yes–know a 3 year rotation is recommended) and to my surprise even with all this neglect, every year I seem to get a fairly good strawberry crop, last year being astoundingly good. Every year I do mulch the bushes with straw to protect the berries from slugs. Some years I have slung down some growmore; some years put down some sulphate of potash or wood ash and some years have done nothing. Haven’t even manured them, I guess thinking maybe the straw is enough?

    So here I am now in the spring. Have not manured or put down any fertiliser–organic or otherwise. Wondered what you recommend for the stawberries, and the other fruit for that matter. Is a dressing of sulphate of potash (good for fruit, I think?) a good thing? Think I should probably put down manure. Am trying to become more organic and definitely no dig.

    We have a hosepipe restriction starting in our area on April 6th. Am trying to water well before hand and then mulch EVERYTHING.

    Thanks for any advice about this.



     I would not use fertiliser like sulphate of potash. Manure now will have a mulching effect, is of less food value to the soil than if applied in winter. Best if well rotted when applied in spring.

    I hope the hosepipe ban is not too difficult. Funny how much one can wish for rain.



    Thanks Charles. Out of curiosity, why would you not use sulphate of potash or wood ash if one wanted an organic equivalent?

    At one point in my early gardening career, I thought I read/heard that manure/compost was like a good diet, while fertilizer’s were like vitamin pills and used to give a boost. Is this a false analogy? And of course, for our bodies, there is a debate about whether one should ever use vitamin pills if we have a good diet.

    Do you ever use fertilizers and if so when and on what?

    I have put nettles in water and used that as a booster–but am never quite sure when and on what is best.



     Interesting question for two reasons.

    First, and I hope it is not rude to ask, why does the fact that you read or heard something mean it is true? I put it like that because there appears to be a massive amount of such "information" which does not often stand up to scrutiny.

    Second, I really dislike the analogy that fertilisers are equivalent to vitamin pills. Sulphate of potash is a "main food" anyway, as in "NPK", and as with so many synthetic fertilisers, it needs careful use to provide correct dosage and avoid leaching. I have never used it and have grown lovely, bountiful soft fruit in many locations and on different soils, just with compost. I am afraid that because K2SO4 is a product sold for profit, there is a tendency for it to be promoted in the way that garden compost is not!

    I never use fertilisers in the sense of adding specific nutrients. Gardeners on certain soils with known deficiencies may need to, but I think most of us are managing well by achieving good levels of humus in the soil. It is not only a question of providing enough nutrients, but of having nutrients in the correct balance for healthy growth, and I trust nature on that one rather than chemical additions. Addition of any single element riske flooding of roots and depletion of others.

    Similarly with synthetic vitamin pills which I think are much less balanced and less assimilable than vitamins in food. Again, all the research has been trying to prove that they do work because that makes money, and I think this is a truly serious, underlying flaw of what we now think of as science. Just look at the hugely profitable business of gm seeds! and of vaccines for that matter, check it out…

    Returning to gardening, yes nettle water is great but only necessary if you cannot source enough soild soil food, or are growing in containers and need extra plant food. It is another job, and pretty smelly too.

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