Saturday, June 05, 2010
Strawberry Growing Secrets
I planted the strawberry plants “bare root” on April 27, 2003. The variety is ‘Ever Red’. I planted all that came in the bundle which was probably 12 or 24 plants, I can’t remember exactly, so I either planted too many or way too many for the size of my patch.
I start harvesting strawberries in late May and end when they are all gone or I get tired of picking them. 'Ever Red' is supposed to be everbearing, meaning I should get a second crop of strawberries later on, but I get one good crop a year, so maybe it is a June bearing variety.
Throughout the year, I do my best to keep the strawberry patch weeded.
I never cover the strawberry patch to keep out the birds or other critters that might want a berry or two. I shouldn’t say “never” because I did attempt to cover them with some netting the first few years but that always resulted in me being the one caught in a big tangle of netting, not the birds, so I stopped doing that. Some berries get pecked at a bit, but there seem to be plenty for me and the birds, who by the way really like the shelter of the nearby Snowball bush.
In the fall, the only attention the strawberry patch gets is when I top dress it lightly with sifted compost harvested from my compost bins which are just a few feet away. If you read about how to grow strawberries, you’ll find that most experts recommend mulching or covering the strawberry plants with straw late in the year. I never do that because my patch is only 4’ x 8’ and the straw I see for sale in the fall comes in great big bales, which is more than I would need for my little patch. In the spring, if any strawberry plants have heaved out of the soil due to freezing and thawing, I gently push them back in.
When people ask me how I get so many strawberries from my patch I usually shrug and answer with “I don’t know, they just grow and I pick them.”
That answer, by the way, is the most frustrating answer that one gardener can give another. With that answer, the other person is convinced that you know a secret to growing something they want to grow, too, and you are just not sharing it with them.
Honestly, I don’t have any secrets for growing strawberries. “They just grow and I pick them.”