Strawberries, celeriac and rhubarb

Anita Kundu is talking about growing Celeriac, Something else from Auckland

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Garden in progress

We harvested our first strawberry today!  Luckily the birds didn’t get to it, but I took that as a sign that it was time to cover our patch with netting, which mum and I did together in the afternoon.  I must say it’s very early!  Our bird netting has holes in it which is important, as the bees need to be able to get in and pollinate the flowers in order to produce fruit.  I also gave our strawberries their weekly liquid feed with Yates Thrive Strawberry and Berry Liquid Plant Food.  Whether you choose to use granular or water soluble fertiliser, organic or otherwise, don’t forget to feed your berries regularly for best results.

I also planted a punnet of celeriac I purchased from Kings Plant Barn.  I did sow the variety “Mars” from Egmont Seeds about a month ago, but my seedlings are still tiny!  I decided to cover myself and put in some established plants as well.  I had luck growing celeriac two years ago at a time I actually knew very little about it!  I had never tasted it before and simply popped the seedlings into the ground in September.  About six months later, we were harvesting enormous bulbs, which we enjoyed in a slaw with apple.  However, last year all my seedlings bolted to seed in November, so I ended up pulling them all out!  This happened even though I had taken the time to make a proper bed for them in full sun and put a lot of effort into soil preparation.  This year, I decided to take the same approach that I did two years ago and simply popped them in the ground.  Sometimes, the less you know about gardening and do for your plants, the better! 

It’s funny, because this also happened to me with kumara.  My best season was a number of years ago when I knew nothing about growing it at all.  I simply popped some slips in the ground, quite late even, in December, and harvested a couple of kilos of kumara from just a few plants in April that year.  It was a bit of an afterthought, so they didn’t have their own bed but they got lots of sun.  Since then, I have never had luck, despite going to great pains to order heritage varieties from Koanga one year, putting a lot of effort into bed preparation and devoting a lot of space (and prime areas in the garden at that) to them.  I didn’t bother to try growing kumara again for a few years, but I will put some slips in this year.

Back to celeriac – a tip given to me by Chris from Yates was that celeriac needs lots of water to prevent it from bolting.  Another thing I did prior to planting my seedlings which I ought to do for all plants I put into the garden, but often forget to do, was to soak the punnet in a bucket with some Yates Thrive Natural Fish and Seaweed fertiliser.  This ensures that the plants get off to a strong start.

I also potted up some rhubarb seedlings.  Last spring, I sowed the variety “Red Cherry” from Kings Seeds.  I now have four plants.  I’ll wait for them to grow a bit bigger before planting them into the garden.  I’ve never grown or tasted rhubarb before so it will be a new experience for me.  If anyone else has rhubarb in their garden, please let me know what you do with it.  Both mum and I have diabetes (which we control with diet and exercise), so unfortunately any sugary recipes are out.  We have to be very disciplined if we want to stay off medication!  I’ve done a bit of research into the nutritious value of rhubarb and it’s apparently supposed to be good for controlling blood sugar levels.

I hope everyone is having a good weekend and getting lots done in the garden.  I was feeling absolutely overwhelmed this morning but when I looked at my task list and crossed off the things that I had done, I realised I’m slowly getting there!  Hope everyone else is happy with the progress they’re making. Remember it’s okay to take a break from the garden every now and then or even have a day off!