Saturday, March 3, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever

      Hello friends, our weather here in Indiana has been really strange this winter, a couple of days warm(70 on Feb29) and back to be cold, not a lot of freezing though and hardly any snow at all. The warm days made me think of spring and my garden, which made me think of my strawberry "patch".
   Have you ever thought about growing strawberries? Strawberries are the most common home grown berries.
   Looking for that first bloom, then the first ripe berry, becomes a race to see who gets to eat the first one of the year. Usually the birds find the first few...but strawberries produce so much that the birds can get some, and  still be plenty for everyone else too.
   When growing strawberries, most of the hard work is in preparing the bed that you will plant them in.
    Strawberries do best in well drained sandy or loamy soil in a sunny location. Don't expect much fruit if you plant them in a shady location.
    I like growing my strawberries in a wide bed.
 For a small garden, this is the easiest way to care for and maintain the plants. It also seems to 
produce the most berries in the smallest area.
   Preparing a bed like this involves tilling and making a hill. Till the area you want to make your strawberry bed as deep as you can (about 12 inches). 
    If you have access to compost, till in a good 
amount. Mound the soil up about eight inches or
higher than the surrounding area.
    Planting strawberries is best done in the spring, but as long as you keep your new plants well watered, summer or fall will work as well. 
    If you know someone who is already growing strawberries, you can usually talk them out of some starts.
    Strawberry plants propagate by runners that grow from the base of a parent plant. These 
runners can extend out up to two feet from the 
mother plant, and will start a new plant where they touch the ground. 
        If you don't control these runners after your
 plants are established, they will take over your entire garden.          
    That's why people who already have strawberries are so generous with giving away starts.
    That is also how planting a few evenly spaced
 plants can turn into a over crowded mess of strawberries in a very short time!
    Keep your new plants watered until they are
established. Keep weeds pulled to eliminate
competition with your young plants.
   Your strawberries will bloom a bit the first year you plant them. Remove these blooms so that they can devote all of their energy to getting established and growing stronger. 
 In the second year and every year after that, your strawberries will start to grow before the last frost, and will start to bloom soon after the last average frost.  If you live further south, expect blooms sooner, further north you'll be them later.
    When you see that first red strawberry, your inclination will be to pick it as soon as you see any color,don't! Wait just a little longer, If there
 is any white on the berries leave them alone for one more day. 
   The difference will be dramatic both in appearance and sweetness. You may lose a few berries to birds, soon though there will be more berries than the birds can eat.

    I hope this helped any of you who are thinking of starting a strawberry patch, or convinced you to do it. Hope your having a great weekend! Until we meet again....

P.S. That button up on the right hand side is for a support group(more like support friend) for women. Go to Bridget's Daughter to learn more.

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