I worked an extra shift this morning, fretting all the while as the sky cleared and the sun blazed down in full October gold. I so wanted to be outside, so as soon as I had finished I rushed home, grabbed a snack and went to the plot to create a strawberry bed.
I have been reading up on the best way to do this, but have gone with the advice from a neighbouring plot holder who has been raising vegetables on the site for 19 years and has two allotments.
” Don’t worry about putting manure in now, just plant the runners and they can make some roots before the weather turns cold. You can feed them next spring.” We have chosen the top of the plot, in full sunshine all day and where the soil was already cleared. I tilled it carefully with my wonderful three pronged cultivator tool and then raked it gently to level it. (I couldn’t resist putting on just a scattering of pelleted chicken manure, to help those roots a little, but it was only a tiny quantity. Honest. )
Then very carefully, I removed some of the rooted strawberry runners from the parent plants that are fighting the couch grass at the other end of the plot, and planted them gently into their new bed. The soil was warm and moist. I took 10 runners from the existing bed, and at the weekend I am going to take 10 more from home and add those to the new bed too. It feels so good to be planting, and the day was an October gift.
When I returned home, I was inspired to look up the William Morris print, called the Strawberry Thief. It’s a design I have always liked. I learned that it was designed by William Morris in 1883 with the birds drawn by Philip Webb . This design was inspired by the Morris family’s attempts to grow strawberries at their home at Kelmscott, but being thwarted by thrushes who would creep under the netting to eat the berries. Morris insisted that the birds be left undisturbed. Now there’s a man after my own heart.