The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Strawberries, spuds and pelargoniums


Photo: Longing for summer

Photo: Longing for summer

I stared at the dinky little pelargonium plants on my mother’s sunny kitchen windowsill.
“I will never grow them again,” she announced.
“Why on earth not? They’re so cute”
“They have taken ages and ages. I’ve got fed up with them.”

My Waterloo was growing strawberries from seed this year. Suddenly I understand how she felt. I’ve begun to loathe my five surviving plants (a pack of fifteen seeds cost £4.19). Sown late January they germinated quite quickly in the electric propagator. Since then they have developed their first sets of true leaves. They are so slow growing that they are difficult to see without a magnifying glass – they measure about 5mm across and the tallest one is 4mm high and it’s nearly the end of March.

I’d been so excited about growing strawberries from seed. The bare rooted plants that I bought last winter survived the deep freeze and are looking good. These have proved to be a much better investment in my opinion. Perhaps the strawberries grown from seed will develop into good strong plants in time.

Suttons have strawberries on special offer at the moment and they are also doing a great deal on 9 rooster seed potatoes (gorgeous floury spuds – delicious on their own with buttermilk) and 3 pink potato grow bags for £10.00. These online offers that swoop into my inbox are so tempting.

On the spud front. I was getting increasingly impatient for the potatoes in the green house to start shooting. These were also planted in January – hoping for a very early harvest. I finally decided to have a poke around and peered into the bag. I spotted the first shoot peeping through. I’ve used Paula’s suggestion of leaf mould for the spuds and added an equal amount of compost to be on the safe side. If you do grow spuds in bags, don’t forget to put a layer of gravel at the bottom. Mandi recommended a video on the Suttons site that tells you of using a thick layer of gravel at the bottom of each bag because the roots don’t like standing in water and they need to be watered a lot. I’ve chitted the spuds (Swift and Lady Balfour ) for the two other bags and have planted them in their bags in the greenhouse this afternoon. This being a root day for biodynamic gardeners. When no more frosts are guaranteed, they will be moved to a sunny spot in the garden.

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  1. Cookie Girl

    My proprogated and original strawbery plants have survived the winter and I am looking forward to the fruits ! I’m not very good at growing from seed due to both a lack of greenhouse and patience! All the best to little Inca.

  2. I’ve got various pots (well, sawn off plastic bottle bottoms) on the kitchen window sills that Ive been inspecting hopefully every morning. Compost, just compost – except that today there are definitely signs of life in the lavender and parsley pots. Maybe there’s still hope for all the others …

  3. jeannie

    how is inca?

  4. Oh bother!!! I haven’t even planted the wild strawberry seeds that I got from River Cottage yet. My plants out in the strawberry bed seem to have just about made it through the winter but there are quite a few holes but strangely most of the runners that I potted up have faired better.

  5. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    That settles it. We’re starting strawberries this year, and I’m just going to bite the bullet and go with the plants. I don’t have your patience!

  6. I’ve grown some very slow and tiny seedlings in my time-I was particularly thrilled with some minute Living Stones that had taken AGES to get to visible size and my sister came to visit,picked up the pot and rooted about in it with her finger asking “what have you planted in here?’.They did not survive the experience….

  7. I haven’t purchased my strawberry plants yet, but my raspberries are coming up! I can’t wait! We’re having a pergola built across the back of the house, and I hope to grow strawberries in hanging baskets from it.

  8. Oh dear. On the positive side the wonderful thing about strawberries is that they are so easy to propogate (my allotment is a testament to this in the worst way as a result of the previous holders neglect. The little beggars are everywhere). I’ll bet that given a couple of years you’ll be selling baby strawberry plants from your roadside stand in an effort to get rid of them.

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