The strawberry plants have been popular with pests so far. I now suspect that the culprit for the leaf munching may have been greenfly. Today there were also some small insects on them, looks like more greenfly. Many of the leaves and some of the flowers were destroyed beyond repair weeks ago. Until now we have not done much to protect the plants. We are reluctant to use insecticide unless absolutely necessary and it seems the problem might not be getting worse. We will continue to monitor the greenfly situation and see if we need to take action.
However, there will be fruit soon and there is no way we will be sharing it with the birds if we can avoid it! For this reason we went to the garden centre again this weekend. We bought ourselves two metres of a small grade of black netting. This cost about £2.20.
Back at the house we found some bamboo, string, wire and two old childrens’ hoops. We carefully tied all of this together. One hoop on the bottom, two crosses made of bamboo on either end, two ‘cross braces’ of more bamboo and finally the second hoop on top.
The netting was then pulled over the top (2m x 2m of netting) and clipped in with some clothes pegs. We moved the strawberries together and covered them with the cage. I really hope this is good enough to keep the birds off. If they are very clever they will probably find a way to climb in underneath it to steal the fruit.
I plan to check on the plants first thing every morning while they are fruiting so hopefully we will get there first and the birds can eat something else!
One thing I have found a bit strange about the strawberry plants is that there are one or two runners already. It seems a little bit early to have runners now. I thought that we would get runners after the fruit was finished. We decided to catch the biggest one and try to propagate it. Adam filled a small pot with soil and we used a bent twig to hold it down onto this soil. It should manage to make itself some roots quite soon.
We might as well pot these runners instead of letting them go to waste. If we have too many plants next year we can just give some away.