In an effort to try and increase the percentage of food we produce on the farm for serving in the hotel restaurant, we decided to plant some soft fruit this winter. We have a slightly basic soil so we planted; strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. We planted a couple of different varieties of each type of fruit, this is to try and extend the cropping season and also following our belief that diversity is good.
Like our vegetable beds, in the fruit beds we have adopted a no dig system, using plenty of compost and manure to mulch the plants. This helps suppress weeds, improove soil structure and increase soil life in general.
The combination of plenty of moisture after a wet spring, some warmer sunny days which we are experiencing now and plenty of horse manure, the strawberries are looking quite grand and producing their first fruits, not bad from a January planting. We started serving these luscious organic strawberries in the restaurant today. Hopefully we will also harvest some raspberries in the autumn, but for our full range of freshly picked soft fruit I am afraid guests will have to wait till next year.