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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Strawberry Growing Secrets

My strawberry patch is 4’ x 8’ and located down at the eastern end of the vegetable garden. It gets a bit of shade from a nearby Snowball bush (Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’) but is mostly in full sun all day.

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.”

12 comments:

Wendy said...

Last year my kids fought over the handful we got. THis year, it's been a bowlful every day for weeks! I'm nervous about what to do to maintain them, and had planned to cut them down, then "replant" them in more evenly spaced rows - but now, perhaps I'll try your secret!

Diana said...

Loved reading your post. I have a small patch - no idea what variety they are. They are ever bearing, even though I've been told time and again I'm not supposed to be able to grow them in Texas. Oh well, I do and they are good!

Dee said...

Hehehehe... I do the exact same thing as you! This year a bunch of people I know are scrambling to get the same variety of strawberries as me now. Ah well... cheers to low maintenance fruits!

Ruth@VS said...

I'm similar to you, don't do too much to them, just a good mulch of home made compost and a little horse manure in spring. They seem to like it! I've never netted them or any of my other fruit either - don't have too much trouble with birds but I don't begrudge them the odd berry.

Christopher C. NC said...

Thankyou Carol. I will follow your advice and just let them grow and pick them.

JGH said...

Nice crop and thanks for the tips! I'm very glad to hear you don't seem to be doing any fooling with the mothers and runners and all that. I put some in this year but don't expect anything til next spring.

Kate said...

Ha! Saw the title of your post and scooted right over since I don't have any growing tips for them, either. This was fun. I don't really mind that the birdies peck at some of them. They seem fairly willing to share. :)

Elizabeth Barrow said...

Wonderful! This sounds like me: "too many or way too many!" It's so hard to thin things out!
Congratulations on your berries and thanks!

Jenni said...

I love this!! I have a very similar explanation of my successful strawberry patch. They just grow. Wish it was that easy with the rest of the garden!

Terry said...

Well, this is great news! I planted a few everbearing strawberry plants last year and did what the "experts" said, pick any flowers that come the first year for a better crop the next year. Now this year, the plants have greatly expanded into the bed and I am picking them to eat, a fairly decent amount. I had read that I am supposed to dig them out and replant new ones every two years, which is NOT what I want to do. So I think I will just do as you do and leave them in there and see how it goes. Sounds so much easier that what the so called experts all say.

Vikki and the Kid said...

I haven't got the outside strawberry bed ready to plant ... maybe next year. Meanwhile, we have three plants inside growing and producing. Wonderful!

Vikki at http://vikkisverandah.blogspot.com and http://write-a-bit.blogspot.com

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

I sort of feel the same way about my patch. Mine are mostly done now, but we ate a lot of strawberries this year from it, and nothing was ever sweeter.~~Dee