First Strawberry

I found the first ripe strawberry of the season this evening, on the corner of the raised bed, where it probably gets more sun. These are everbearing strawberries that I planted last year. My hope and plan is to have a few strawberries to pick all through the season, if I can beat the bunnies and birds to them. I've already noticed that the bunnies have eaten one section of the plants, but there should still be plenty of strawberries for me.

I also planted the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant this evening.

Are you a staker or a cager of tomatoes? I was raised a staker, and so that's what I do. I've never caged a tomato in my life! I set out stakes, plant two tomatoes at each stake and then pinch off the suckers and tie the tomatoes to the stakes as they grow.

This lasts until about July 1st when I realize some suckers have gotten away from me and are bigger than the main plant. Then I just do what I can to contain the tomatoes and swear that next year I'll do better. So this year, I will do better!

Here's a picture of how I do my stakes.

I pound sections of PVC pipe into the ground as far as I can. Then I drop the stake into the pipe. I find this is a lot easier than trying to drive a six foot stake into the ground. I still don't get them all perfectly straight, but I tell myself that even if I pounded the PVC pipe in straight to begin with, over the summer the stakes would still end up leaning this way and that way, so it isn't worth it to try to make them perfectly straight to begin with.

I planted Beefsteak, Oregon Spring, Cluster Grande, German Johnson and Jelly Bean Grape tomatoes, all started from seed this spring. I still have room for a few more tomatoes, so I'll venture out to find something in the garden centers to fill in with this weekend.

By the way, in the picture of the stakes, ignore that mess behind there, that's the compost bin piles. I have some bamboo screening that I put around all that to hide it better, but the screening is in the attic and I just haven't gotten it down yet. But I will this weekend!

I will also finish planting all the summer vegetables by this weekend, a little each evening. Tomorrow night, I think I'll plant the squash and cucumbers.

Does anyone want to help? What I could use everyone's help with is rain. If you know how to conjure up some rain, please do so for central Indiana. The weatherman said this is the driest spring since '92. I can smell how dry it is (you know that funny dry smell, don't you?). When I hoed up the raised beds for the tomatoes and peppers, I raised up big dust clouds. We need real rain, not just a sprinkle. We need a steady rain for an entire day.

Oh, and that ripe strawberry pictured above. Like I said, I'm competing with the bunnies and birds to get to these. Yes, I could cover the strawberry patch with white cloth to protect them, and I just might. In the meantime, though score is Carol 1, bunnies and birds 0.

And it was very good!


  1. Sorry to hear that it has been so dry there this spring. We just had three to four inches of rain this weekend which made it difficult to garden but all is very lush! Wish I had one of those strawberries!

  2. Been a cager but am a staker now. Never thought of pvc pipe to hold the stakes though. Good Idea thank you!

    I watered my veggie garden today. The weather folks predict 20% rain showers tonight and tomorrow but I figured I would water them because it might not rain. It's going to rain for sure now! Wish I could ship some of our storms your way.

    I'm glad you got the first strawberry looks delicious.

  3. Carol, I'm right there with you on the rain. It is so dry. I hope we get some soon, Want to join me in a rain dance?

  4. What??? No Sungolds???? I have some seeds if you'd like some!

    I like how you do your tomato plants. Maybe I'll try this!

    Yes, we need rain badly here, too. Big cracks in the yard already! I've had to water every day, with these warm temps and no rain. :-(

  5. A tomato staker of cager? Neither, I grow my tomatoes up spirals.

    So now it's your turn to have a bit of a drought? The weather is distinctly off, wouldn't you say? First you got that awful April and now this. Sending rain your way, we have had enough already, all my water barrels are filled to overflowing. Rain, go to Carol!

    The strawberry score for me is: slugs 1, Yolanda 0, so you've done much better! :-)

  6. I have always tried caging, but it gets away from me. I will try stakes this year. I planted three tomatoes and 1 cherry this year, but that is more than I usually do. I had Laura with me and she wanted to do more. She wanted to try the cherry tomato in a pot. She also helped me plant verything in the veggie garden. The srawberries look good!.
    Kathy, the older sister

  7. I'm trying staking for the first time this year...crossing my fingers it'll work. (There's no reason it shouldn't, but I have no real faith in my gardening ability as of yet.)

    As for rain, I wish I could send the storm that's predicted for my wedding day, Sunday, to your area.

  8. I'm a cager...if I remember to get the cages in before the tomatoes get too big. Otherwise, I'm a staker :-)

    Hope you get some rain soon. We had some at the end of last week, but it was pretty dry here before that. If I see any more, I'll try to send it your way :-)

  9. I'm a cager. I put on the cage just after planting the tomato.

    You've got the strawberries and I've got the rhubarb. We could meet halfway and bake a crisp. :<)

  10. I started out a cager, but now am mostly a staker. However, I now plant so many tomatoes that the past few years I've gotten out the cages, too. I've found the very prolific varieties like Yellow Pear do better when caged - I just can't keep up with all the suckers. I also like your PVC idea. I pound the bamboo stakes into the soil, but they tend start leaning pretty precariously by the first of August.

  11. I've always been a cager. I really didn't want to bother with stakes but your way looks pretty easy. I'll have to try it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  12. Sorry to hear that you are so dry. I don't grow tomatoes (or any veggies at all)so I had no idea there were "stakers vs cagers". I'll have to pay more attention everyone's blogs!

  13. Good that you got the first bite of the strawberry. Only fitting since you planted them. Around where I live the slugs would get them even before the critters.

  14. Carol - next time you are over, you'll have to convince your brother-in-law that tomato plants do need something - I don't care if it is a cage or a stake. He things it's fine to let them do whatever they want. For shame, for shame......

  15. All... Thanks for the comments. It appears that cagers have a bit of an edge over stakers. Offline my sister asked me how to do staking and what are the suckers that are removed. I'll post about that separately soon when I have a sucker to remove and can take a picture of the process!

    Carol At May Dreams Gardens

  16. Carol, I'm a cager but I think your stakes look much nicer and more interesting-looking! I think my husband must have made my sturdy cages years ago and I've used them for many purposes - to prop up sprawling plants and for keeping the dogs from trampling plants when they were young, and of course - tomatoes.

    You're going to have to be fast to beat those birds and bunnies to your strawberries!


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