Planting Strawberries This Spring!
Planting strawberries was one of my goals for this spring. I’ve had a strawberry patch for many years and loved picking the fresh berries for Low Sugar Strawberry Jam, Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, Fresh Strawberry Pie, shortcake, and eating right from the garden.
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My last patch died out several years ago…right about the time that I was dealing with severe arthritis in my hip. So planting strawberries was not high on my list of priorities back then. With my fancy new titanium hip, I am able to work in the garden again! And planting a strawberry patch is doable. Hurray!
I had planned to order bare-root plants from a mail-order nursery but when I saw them for a decent price locally, I snapped them up.
I’m happy to be putting in more strawberries as they are a great perennial fruit for self-sufficiency.
Last week I planted 20 bare root Quinalt (an everbearing strawberry) and 20 Allstar (a June bearing strawberry). I’ll be honest, the roots didn’t look that great so I’m not sure how well they will do. Perhaps I should have just ordered them from one of the nurseries I’ve used before. If they don’t grow, I’ll be back at square one.
If I had more space I would put in an early and late June bearing variety for a longer harvest. Have I mentioned that I love strawberries?
In the past, I’ve raised Fort Laramie, Ozark Beauty, Tristar, and Tribute everbearing strawberries and they all did pretty well. The Fort Laramie and Ozark Beauty seemed to produce the most berries. They both had great flavor too. For June bearing varieties, I’ve only grown Earliglow. It is very tasty and the earliest to fruit in my area. It will be interesting to compare the Allstar berries to Earliglow.
Planting Strawberries and Mulching with Straw
I prepared two beds by digging the weeds up, turning the soil and then using my hoe to break the clumps apart. The soil sat for about a week and I hoed it again to make sure the weeds were gone.
For each plant, I dug a large hole and formed a cone-shaped mound in the center. I placed the crown on the top of the mound and spread the roots down and over the mound evenly. Then the roots were covered with loamy soil up to the base of the crown.
I watered the beds well and made sure the soil hadn’t settled and exposed the roots. When that was all done, I used some straw to mulch around the plants. This helps prevent evaporation and protects the crowns from cold weather. It’s a good thing I mulched them because we are expecting a snow storm today!
I still have a few Fort Laramie everbearing plants in a little bed next to our garage. Every year the chipmunks eat the berries as soon as they start to color up. Little rascals!
Transplanting them is on my to-do list for this spring. That list is pretty long, but I have another bed prepared and ready for more strawberries, so most of the work is done. It isn’t difficult to transplant strawberries. You can keep most of the soil around the roots to reduce transplanting shock. Plant them at the same level they were growing before the move.
It’s a good idea to give your newly planted strawberries a side dressing of compost or a light feeding. Use a fertilizer that is formulated to encourage rooting. The N-P-K numbers should be something like 1-5-7 or 5-10-10, the middle number is phosphorus or potash and this nutrient is needed for fruiting and root growth. Don’t use a product that has high numbers like 20-25-20 as these may cause fast, weak growth and are typical of non-organic fertilizers. Personally, I only use organic fertilizers that are made with natural ingredients that don’t force excessive growth.
No Strawberry Harvest this Year 🙁
Unfortunately, I won’t be harvesting any berries from my patch this year. It takes a year for the plants to get established and put down a healthy root system. So for this year, I will need to pick off the blossoms. Darn. I knew what I was getting into when I started, however.
Maybe the everbearing patch could be allowed to produce a few fruits this fall. We’ll see how healthy they look. I’m not holding out a lot of hope for that. If I had ordered the variety ‘Seascape’ that I was drooling over, I might have had better luck with berries this year. They are touted as producing berries 3 months after planting.
I’ll just have to buy a few strawberries from the grocery store or look for a local pick your own patch. The local strawberry patches aren’t very common anymore. When I was a kid there were a ton of them.
Some ‘Berry’ Fond Memories
For a couple of years when I was a kid, my sister and I took care of a small patch of strawberries. We sold a few berries and it was a good lesson, but I can’t say that we took it very seriously. Mostly I remember eating up the profits!
When we didn’t have our own berry patch, our family would go strawberry picking at the local pick your own patches. We made strawberry jam and shortcake. The big joke was that the proprietors should probably weigh us before we started picking and then again after we finished, charging us for the difference! It seemed as though we ate more than we picked…at least for us kids.
It was common for us to return home with 2 or 3 flats of berries to eat fresh and preserve for the winter. We paid less than $1 per quart back then. Now I believe a quart of U-Pick berries is $4 or $5. I’m really not sure how much of that is profit because purchasing the plants and tending a patch is a big investment.
Planting Strawberries for the Future
I’m planting strawberries so that my family has fresh, organic berries for a reasonable price. It is a great feeling to pull a jar of homemade jam from my own berries out of the pantry!
This makes it worthwhile to invest my time and money into a small strawberry patch in my own garden. Even if I won’t harvest until next year, I know that those plants will produce a bounty of delicious berries for the future. I just have to be a little bit patient in the meantime. 🙂
For more information about growing strawberries, check out my article Ultimate Guide to Growing Organic Strawberries!
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