Multiplying strawberry plants

A couple months ago, I planted some of the runners that had sprouted from the strawberry plants. Shortly after, I started my long summer pause from the blog, and so I hadn’t yet shared these pictures with you.

Runners are horizontal stems that sprout from strawberry plants, at some points those steams grow like a small plant as you can see in the picture below.

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When planted upon soil, these small plants grow roots and become another strawberry plant.

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For some weeks, we had this puzzle of strawberry plants, all connected!

IMG_2385Then, a spot in the middle of the connection between the mother plants and the new plants started to get dry and brown and I guessed it was safe to cut the runners and could rearrange the pots.

More runners have been appearing but I haven’t grown all of them because I couldn’t end up with 20 strawberry plants! However, today I have seen one more runner… so maybe I’ll plant one more!

What has me surprised is that the plants keep flowering and producing strawberries but like one every two weeks or so. Which is very funny because I am like “oh nice, a strawberry!” and I just eat it. I have been meaning to look it up, to know until when the plants are supposed to keep producing but I haven’t yet, I’ll be sure to tell you when I find that out 😉

Have a nice start of September!

Jara

PS: Maybe you want to see when I planted them or when we first picked some strawberries!

 

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The fruity balcony

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After days of lust-watching the white flowers turn into green strawberries… about five days ago we were able to pick the first one! We were so excited… You should have seen us, sharing ONE small strawberry among two, and then go like “ohh this is so good, so much tastier than the one’s we buy!” because guys…I swear: it was sooo much tastier! 🙂

After the small tasting, the rest of the strawberries did not take much long though and yesterday we were able to pick up this “bunch” you see on the picture. Not a lot, but at least more than one per each of us haha

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Tomatoes are taking a little bit longer… and are still looking super green… on the bright side though, there are lots of them, so when they mature we’ll have plenty! 🙂

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PS: Wanna see the planting of the tomatoes or the strawberries?

Getting rid of the aphids

As promised, I am going to share with you the solution I have been using to finally get rid of the aphids that have invaded the balcony.

The solution my dears is… tataxan… potassium soap!

How did I get to this solution are you wondering? Well it was thanks to Picaronablog. It is a great blog, with tons of information on growing a kitchen garden in containers. So, thanks to her I have learned the benefits of this pesticide and hopefully I am in the way of getting rid of the damned aphids for good!

Picaronablog, however, is written in Spanish and Catalan, so for those of you who do not speak does languages I’ll brief you about potassium soap and how to use it.

Potassium soap is made out of vegetable oils. It can be made at home, recycling the used cooking oil. This time I have bought it, primarily because it was kind of an urgent matter so I didn’t have time to loose, but I like the idea so I am planning on trying it someday. (Remind me that in a year when I still haven’t done so.. 😉 )

The advantages of potassium soap, as a pesticide, is that it is ecological and it does not have any “safety time” before you can eat the crops. You just rinse the veggies with water and they are good to eat.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it kills (the insects) by contact, so it does not work as prevention for the aphids or have any lastly effect. Therefore, to successfully finish with the pest you have to spray everywhere there are aphids, for instance the back of each leave and also repeat the application during some days.

I have no idea of how often one has to do it, but since I was so pissed off with the invasion I sprayed the affected plants every evening for the first tree or four days. I have done it in the evenings because apparently some people say that if you spray it under the sunlight, the leaves might get burned.

To prepare the soap solution it is very simple.

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Heat some water (a glass a cup or a small boiling pot) and dilute a spoonful of the soap.

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Then just pour it into a spaying bottle and add cold water to fill it. The recommended proportion, according to Picaronablog, is one tablespoon of soap in a litre of water.

I have been spraying the plants with this solution for a week now, and although I still find some aphids, the population has decreased dramatically! As I said, for the first three or four days I did it every evening and spraying almost every leaf of the affected plants, but since then I have been doing it on a day in, day out basis and only in places where I see aphids.

So that’s it.. I hope this can be useful if you ever find yourself with the same problem as me… Have a nice (and aphid free) Monday you all! 😉

Jara

Credits: Autor and photography Jara Forcadell

Ups and downs in the balcony

As I advanced in my last post, I arrived home from my trip to find some news on the balcony. What do you want first? The good or the bad news? I think I am gonna start with the bad, so we can finish the post with a smile.

One image tells more than a hundred words… and if you remember my struggle to rid the peach tree of the aphids (here you have my first and second post about it) you will imagine my reaction when I saw this…

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The tree was completely infested with them. And plus, the leaves were all curled and red. I promise you, when I saw this, my soul sunk to my feet. (Over-reactive? me? Please! 😉 )

And then, when I moved to see the rest of the plants I found that many others were affected too! The strawberry bushes, the lettuces, the basil, the mint… I was so pissed of, to have not been able to stop the pest on the tree and therefore having let it spread to all the balcony…

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If that was not enough… the peas (which by the way have already produced quite a few peas that we have collected, I’ll tell you about that later… ) have something grey on the leaves and at the same time are drying out in some places.

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See the greyish thing? And the yellow dry leaves?IMG_1882

However, after the initial stress, “Oh no.. What am I gonna do? I shouldn’t have started gardening in the first time, this is clearly not for me.. etc..”, I relaxed and started working.

I have already started action on the aphids, and I have been doing research on the greyinsh attack to the peas and hopefully will come up with a solution soon. Of course I’ll share it all here as soon as I can 🙂

We’ll enough bad news, I also found some reasons to smile and clap my hands when I got home last Saturday.

First, the strawberry bushes are sprouting a lot of white flowers.

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The tomatoes as well have started flowering.

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The basil, which has taken it’s sweet time to grow is finally starting to look like a plant and not a seedling (remember I planted it on yoghurt pots at the end of January?).

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And, last but not least, the lavender, which until now hadn’t made any change since we bought it at the garden centre in February has started growing bigger and sprouting lilac beautiful flowers.

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Gardening has proved to be much more hard than I expected, I have heard about pests and diseases of plants but you know.. you always think it is not going to happen to you, and plus I though in case it did happen it would be easier to solve… on the other hand though… I never expected it would be so rewarding either!

I guess it’s about practise, and with the time I’ll learn how to tackle all this problems more easily. In the meantime… when the task overwhelms me I’ll try to focus on how nice are the new flowers that are appearing and how sweet will those taste when they become tomatoes and strawberries!

Does your garden or balcony overwhelm you as well sometimes? How do you deal with the pests and diseases on your plants? If you do not have a garden or green balcony yet, I hope this post does not discourage you, as you see there is always a bright side! 😉

Jara

Credits: Autor and photography Jara Forcadell

My plant files – New file: Basil

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Sweet basil is a bushy annual with glossy opposite leaves and spikes of white flowers. This herb is one of the main ingredients in pesto sauce and can be used to add flavor to many recipes, it tastes specially good combined with tomato.

– If you want to grow it from seed you can do it outdoors after the last frost, or indoors if its still cold. I have read different instructions as to the planting: one that says to sow about eight seeds per pots and then thin to four seedlings when they start to sprout, and then another one recommends to plant two or three seeds. In my case I hadn’t yet read this when I started the planting so I think I went a bit crazy and put like… ten seeds in each of the two pots I planted… and I didn’t thin any seedlings. I hope the plant grows anyway… I’ll keep you updated on that so you can learn from my mistake!
Also about growing it from seed, at least in my case, it has been veeeery slow. I mean, I planted the basil the same day I planted the  parsley, and while the second has grown a lot, the basil is still the seedling you see in the picture below.

– It’s a good idea to pair basil with tomatoes and with pepper because it is said it improves its taste and repels horn worms and aphids.

– About watering it is advised to keep the soil damp, but not soaked. Basil does best in well-drained soil, and should not be subjected to standing water. The best one can do is water the basil plants once a day, in the morning, so the water has time to soak in and evaporate rather than sitting on the plants overnight.

Maybe you will like to read when I sown basil indoors on yoghurt pots, when I planted it outdoors, and when I planted another basil seedling in a re-purposed water bottle (sadly this last one  didn’t make it…)

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Sources:
– “The Edible Balcony” book by Alex Mitchell.
– http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/basil-growing-guide
– http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Basil
– http://fichas.infojardin.com/condimentos/ocimum-basilicum-albahaca-alhabega-alfabega-basilico.htm

My plant files is kind of my own “small encyclopaedia” where I record what I learn about gardening and the needs of each plant I have on the balcony. Its a work in progress where I keep adding thing I learn, I still haven’t had the time to do one for each of the plants I have on the balcony… but I’m on it!! 😉 You can see more about this, and the files I have already done in this page or on the sidebar on your right.

Hope you like it! And of course, would love to hear advice and feedback 🙂

Jara

Credits: Autor and photography Jara Forcadell

 

Spring onions

Yesterday evening we picked some of the spring onions.

Here I have to make a small note… I have edited this post because I had been naming these onions: “sweet onions”. Until now I had been calling them that because I though this was the correct translation for what is called “cebes tendres” in catalan.. but it turns out that this is called “spring onions”! Thanks to Lizard100 for asking what those were, which made me realize the mistake 😉 

As you see they were literally getting out of the soil already…
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I have yet to taste them because I did not feel like eating uncooked onion at dinner, but Sergi had some with his salad and said it tasted really good. 🙂

These onions, that we bought as seedlings, were the first thing we planted on the balcony.

Have a nice day!

Jara

PS: Maybe you’ll like to see when we planted tomatoes, or our very first harvest of spinach leaves.

Credits: Autor and photography Jara Forcadell

 

 

Good and bad growing issues

Last Friday afternoon I went to water the plants and found the lettuces looking this bad.

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At first I didn’t understand what had happened if only a few days ago I was so proud of how good they were looking. Then Sergi said that the night before had rained a bit of moody rain and really we started noticing that all the plants were covered in brown dust. We though, of course the lettuces look like that because they have been all day under the sun covered in this dust! The other plants have more resistant leaves, so they had beared the dust much better.

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So I started watering the all the plants, to wash them of the dust. When I got to the lettuces, as I was poking the leaves around and I saw that some of the roots had rotten! So apparently the problem was not only the muddy rain after all…IMG_1654

My hypothesis is: the lettuces have been growing so fast we are not able to eat enough of them to keep them small and lately, as I showed on the last post they are actually bursting from the pot, this has caused that some leaves are stuck under the others, touching the soil and rotting there…

So I decided that the best I could do, and basically the only solution I could think of, was to cut all the dead leaves and take out all the rotten roots. And that I did, it was a bit of a butchery but I kept telling myself it was better to cut some than see all of them rot.

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On a more positive note, the mint has recovered from the aphids attack 🙂 if you remember because of the aphids the mint had dies down to almost nothing and I had to cut a lot of branches… but it has recovered and now it looks green lush again!

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The tree however has aphids again… but this time I haven’t get so stressed out about it, I have just sprayed it with soap and water… and I’ll keep doing this for a few days and see if l get rid of them for good!IMG_1633

And to end up, another happy picture, the peas plant has sprouted a lot of small white gorgeous flowers to bring some spring spirit to the balcony 🙂IMG_1641

Hope you are having a nice week,

Jara

Credits: Autor and photography Jara Forcadell