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Need strawberry eggplant tips


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#1 Your Letters

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Posted 04 May 2020 - 09:47 AM

My friends are starting a little vegetable garden in their back yard. They’re wondering if you have any tips! Specifically for strawberries (they want to keep them separate because they’re invasive) and eggplant. Would appreciate any advice you have :) - A. S. =



#2 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 04 May 2020 - 10:06 AM

They are right: Anyone growing strawberries must plan for invasiveness because it is strawberry plants' nature. More importantly, honoring that invasive nature is how you harvest the best crop year after year. Young strawberry plants bear fruit but 2nd year plants bear best. So:

A) Plant your starter plants with room to spread about 8" to all sides.

 

StrawberriesAP373_9s.jpg

Straw mulch helps keep weeds down and fruit clean. This is what a springtime strawberry patch should look like, with room between plants so that after bloom season the new runners can set down roots.

 

B.) Let those year 1 babies set fruit if you like. (Or not; books often say not, better to let new plants direct all energy into creating daughter plants. I find it makes no difference to the home grower. A farmer will see a difference that may make the yield from first-year harvest not worth the cost but that does not apply on backyard scale.)

 

C) Let the plants send their runners into adjacent free space, where they will set down roots and bulk up in year one. They will produce in year 2.

 

D) In early spring of year 2, remove at least some of the original plants and any plants that are beyond bounds and small because they got a very late start in year 1.

 

E) Topdress the resulting bare spots with compost or soil plus slow release natural carbon based fertilizer such as mixtures of fish meal, blood meal, feather meal, etc. The objective is too create fertile bare space once again so the year 2 plants have room to spread. It is the Year 2 offspring that will be the most productive in year 3 of the planting.

 

You can keep this up nearly forever if you make sure to complete E. In the

doing, you contain wanton spread.

 

Another option is to grow the strawberries in a barrel or box with holes cut in the sides. The plants are tucked into the holes and their runners and fruited stems just hang into space.

 

Barrels can look good and only the lowest level of plants that can reach the ground must be curtailed. But the arrangement is too demanding of intricate work, for me. To keep the plating young and bearing well the gardener must clip off husky runners, pull original plants and keep replanting the little windows in the barrel sides. Otherwise the whole colony becomes decrepit.

 

That's too limiting for me, to have only those windows to plant and no easy way to mix in new soil and nutrients except in a very limited spot; unless you use water soluble fertilizer which does not encourage crumbly great soil.

 

Eggplant.

Pretty simple to grow. Susceptible to all of the tomato's/nightshade family's pests so should not be grown where tomatoes (or potatoes or peppers or petunias or flowering tobacco) were grown during the past couple of years.

 

Water the soil around the plant, not the leaves unless there has been no rain for a couple of weeks then shower the plant including leaf undersides early in the day. Dry foliage - less leaf disease. Occasional hard rain - insect eggs knocked off.

 

Thrives only in warm soil so don't set out plants until crabgrass germinates (Ma Nature's soil thermometer) or a manufactured soil thermometer says 60F. 

 

Patrol daily and pluck off/clip off every discolored leaf. Do not agonize over the loss just do it. Keeps fungal problems way down.

 

eggplant_0408s.jpg

This plant would be far larger and bear larger fruit if it had been groomed along the way to remove discolored leaves.

 

eggplantLf_0408s.jpg

The small yellowed areas are where fungus is at work, draining the plant's nutrients. Little dead dots are from sucking insect damage, probably thrips that could have been curtailed with occasional showering and removal of first-infested leaves.

 

Hope this helps. I am posting it on our Forum to perhaps nab other tips.






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