Cleaning up the strawberries & saving some seeds..

Posted July 27th, 2013 by Rob Bob : )»

Grey mould on the strawberries...
There has been a bit of a competition between Koo & I to see who can get to the strawberries in the barrels before the other during our morning walk around the patch.. On Monday Koo discovered that some of the berries on the inside of a barrel had an infection..
What she had found were some very manky strawberries infected with Grey Mould (botrytis cinerea) infection.. We have had this pop up in the Winter strawberries before but as it only affected a few fruit I have never really bothered to look into it.. We always thought we had just left the fruit on too long as we have been told that strawberries can be a bit finicky to grow in the subtropics..
This time the infection has started to claim the majority of the fruit in the barrel so something had to be done..
The infection starts when spores land on the flowers then either; start to form mould, or lays dormant until the fruit forms & provides enough sugar for it to feed on..
The soil has settled a bit leaving the plants about 10-15cm lower in the barrel than when they were planted.. This has left a nice thick canopy of leaves restricting the air flow & not allowing sunlight to penetrate to help the plants to dry out..
Damp conditions & poor air flow helps the Grey mould take hold, so that's why I think these plants have been infected more so than any other strawberries in the patch.. The first step in addressing this infection was to give the plants a radical pruning..
Any infected looking fruit & leaves were removed along with any old shrivelled, dried leaves that might harbour hidden mould spores.. The vegetation removed was then thrown into the council collection bin as I didn't want to compost or feed the clippings to the worms & risk spreading the infection further..
What I did next was to mix up a natural fungicide that we had purchased a while ago to treat any remaining spores..

I made up this fungicide spray by mixing:

1tsp of potassium bicarbonate (eco rose & eco fungicide are 2 brands available here in Australia)

1 tsp of horticultural soap

1L of water

I mixed this well inside a spray bottle and applied it liberally to the remaining fruit, flowers, leaves & mulch in the barrel.

A homemade recipe that is said to work well is 1tsp of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) with a few drops of pure liquid soap (like Sunlight) in 1L of water.. As I understand it, the high pH of the bicarbonates kills off the spores, effectively killing it on the spot..
I am fairly confident that if I keep reapplying either spray every 9 or so days the infection should clear up quick smart..

Saving some seeds..

Have managed to save seeds from a few different plants in the yard this week & am very chuffed that I could as we have no remaining saved seeds left of a few..

Snow peas are actually quite easy to save.. I just leave the pods to dry out on the vine until they are slightly crisp & the peas rattle a bit in the pods.. The pods are then pulled & left a week or so longer before the peas are collected.. Due to the wet weather most of the pods were affected with mould.. Not really an ideal situation so we won't be sharing any of these with others.. Don't really want to be responsible for spreading the spores into others' gardens.. I think I will plant a few of these so we can get some more seeds collected later on in the year..

Dill is another seed that is easy to collect as long as you can catch it in time.. We actually have loads of them popping up all around the yard as volunteers.. The seeds tend to dislodge fairly easy from the heads so I have tied bags around a few to try & catch them as they dry out..

Coriander loves to bolt to seed here so we have it popping up all over the shop.. The seeds on the plants at the bottom of the back stairs have just stared to dry out, so I have been pulling a few off here & there when they are ready..

We have LOADS of marigolds seeds saved at the moment... The majority of these seeds will be planted & used as a green manure crop to help keep the root knot nematodes under control in a few beds that are showing signs of infestation..

While the cauliflower seeds are not ready to harvest the plants are looking like they will be giving us a fair amount of seed..

Found 2 ripe yellow egg tomatoes in the front yard that have been set aside for seed saving purposes.. We haven't grown these for a few years so if that seed was strong enough to survive for so long I think we should save the seed & give that variety another shot..

Harvests from the Patch..

On Monday I decided to whip up a bit of a favourite here called "Lions Head soup".. I wanted to add some crunch to it, so pulled the poor lone white carrot that had survived in the snow pea bed..Was quite a specimen coming in at just over 25cm in length & very elegantly had her legs crossed..
The veggies were all sliced thinly, placed raw in the bottom of the bowls, had a few pork & prawn balls added on top then covered with steaming hot chicken broth.. They taste like a wontons from short soup but without the wrapper..

These goodies went into a quick chopped salad on Wednesday night.. Is a bit of a staple here as it only takes a few seconds to prepare in the food processor.. The strawberry didn't make it in though, it was quickly devoured by the cameraman after the shot was taken ;)

As you can see from the harvest pictures we are still getting loads of broccoli side shoots from the 4 plants we left in.. We have been eating it 6 nights out of 7... Much to the girl credit, last night was the first time I heard a "Awwww Daaaaad" when told we were having it in our tossed salad :D»
It went fantastic with some locally grown & butchered beef we purchased at the local Friday night markets.. Felt good to be eating local beef with salad that was grown even closer :)»

That's it for now... Have got some biochar soaking down stairs at the moment & hope to do a post on that next week showing how it is used to help feed the plants...
Hope you all have a great week in the patch & get some dirt under your nails..

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