Another family favorite in my home is strawberries. Fresh garden grown strawberries are delicate, sweet, melt in your mouth bites of paradise. Your family will be eating from garden paradise when you place a garden fresh strawberry pie before them or set out fresh strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast toppings! :D
How To Grow Strawberries
[caption id="attachment_21711" align="aligncenter" width="503" caption="The season's first strawberries will appear soon!"][/caption]
Strawberries are fun and easy to include in your outdoor space because there are so many types of structures and beds that are designed to host them. You can find clay or ceramic strawberry planters, hanging bags, and tiered raised beds, or they can fit right into your existing landscaping as an edging along the front of a flowerbed or a walkway. Have fun and be creative, or formal and structured, either way soon your family will enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor. :)
Strawberries come in June-bearing and ever-bearing varieties that grow in most hardiness zones. June-bearing strawberries fruit late June to early July while ever-bearing fruit in June/July as well as late August until fall freeze. Plant strawberries in early spring or in the fall if you have enough soil moisture for them to get their roots established before freeze. Trim the roots of the new plants and soak them in water for about an hour before planting to make sure they are well hydrated. When planting, be sure all of the roots are buried so they do not dry out, but keep the crown (point where all the leaves attach) above the soil. Water them well once they are all in the ground. By spacing strawberries about 18" apart, you can allow daughter runners to fill in the row, but maintain a 6" spacing for optimal fruit production .
The first season, let the plants become well established by trimming off all the flowers of June-bearing or until mid-July for ever-bearing. Strawberries do not handle very cold (20F or lower) winters well so cover them with straw or chopped leaves after the ground is frozen. Keep them covered until the chance of freezing has past. If you plant your strawberries in a container move them into the shed/garage or a sheltered location and cover them well for the winter. Move the mulch to under the plants to keep the fruit clean and off the ground.
Keep the plants well watered during fruit to maximize quality and quantity. You will find that you are not the only strawberry lover in your neighborhood so be prepare to cover them with bird netting assoonas they begin to turnpink! I have watched robins cruise the edge of netting looking for a way in. They know how good that delightful berry is too!
[caption id="attachment_21705" align="aligncenter" width="502" caption="Netting over the wire keeps birds out."][/caption]
Every few years you will want to replace all your plants to keep your patch disease free. You can do this by simply rooting the daughter plants from your existing bed into containers (yogurt container with bottom drainage holes work well), and keeping them happy elsewhere until you are ready for them. Then remove all of your old plants from your bed/container, fertilize the soil with mature compost and plant the daughter plants you collected back into the bed. I will be doing bed renovation this year and wanted so bad to have pictures of collecting daughter plants to show you, but my plants are not there yet. Come visit me at The Full Circle Gardener later this year to follow my journey. :)
Leave a note here on Tip Junkie or contact me at The Full Circle Gardener if you have questions. Next week we will look into gardening watering options. Until next week, Happy Gardening! :)