Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Two Hints for Strawberries That I Didn't Follow

I think I know why I've lacked enthusiasm for gardening this year.

Two years ago, we had a bad drought and the garden shriveled up.

Last year, our garden was left to fend for itself as we worked our house addition. The rabbits and ground hogs enjoyed feasting and weeds were given the upper hand.

It was hard for me to get excited about gardening this year. But now that we are starting to harvest from our garden, I'm reminded why I love a garden. Nothing beats eating vegetables freshly picked from the garden.


Strawberries are always one of my favorite things to grow. The investment of time is minimal for the return. Some years our patch has yielded over 75 quart of berries.

But this year's patch is discouraging. Can you tell by the photo two mistakes we made? (The hoops are holding up bird netting.)



1. Thin - During our drought two years ago, some of our strawberry plants died. The whole center of the patch has very few plants. Only the end of the patch is growing well. I should have thinned the plants out, moving them to the empty places, but I didn't. Now the patch is one solid mass of plants at the one end. It is very difficult to pick since there are no rows but worse, crowded plants hinder air flow. This spring has been very wet and rainy which encourages rot and mold.

Don't do as I did. For healthy strawberries, thin the plants to allow air circulation.

2. Weed - Not only were the plants too crowded, but we also allowed weeds to take over. You can't see the strawberry plants growing in the tall grass. There is no way to pull out the grass without pulling out plants so I'm attempting to pick berries amongst the grass. Of course, the competition isn't healthy for the plants and the weeds again hinder air circulation.

Don't do as I did. Keep your strawberry patch free of weeds.

After the berries are over, we plan to revamp this patch, moving plants to the empty places and vigorously working at weed control. If we can clean up the patch and mulch heavily, we should regain control of our patch.

But take a warning from us, and don't allow your patch to ever get this bad. A little maintenance last year would have saved us a headache this spring.

How does your garden grow?

11 comments :

  1. I did the same thing one year. A bad year and didn't move the streamers and weeds crept in. A disaster. I turned it all under, put down new straw and started over. A huge investment.But a learning experience. I remember thinking is it worth this when three conssessions over an a strawberry farm? It was the start-up costs that were the killer. Hopefully you can use some of your exisiting patch to re-start a new one. Glad to hear I's not the only foolish one!

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  2. Hi Gina - you are so right about keeping on top of the garden. As we were away all last year and my husband was commuting 500 miles every weekend to see us, our garden for really neglected and its so hard to regain control. This year we have had drought followed by a month of torrential rain and everything I have tried to achieve has failed there. It is so demoralising and I feel like giving up but somehow I can't. Just seeing one plant or bush improve keeps me going.
    May I ask you a question. I am wishing to go back to wearing long full skirts all the time instead of the unattractive trousers that have been my usual 'at home' wear. How do you manage to do gardening and cleaning when you are wearing your lovely dresses? How do you keep them out of the way when, say, digging or cleaning floors. I have been experimenting wearing skirts all week but have found it quite difficult. Sorry for the strange question but I really want this to work for me. lily. xxx

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    Replies
    1. Lily -
      Thanks for your question. I think it mostly is just becoming accustomed to wearing skirts, whatever the activity. When I am gardening, I wear an old easy-to-launder dress. I usually have two big brown spots on my dress where I was kneeling in the mud. My neighbors would probably tell you that I don't always look lovely! In the early morning, when picking peas, the bottom of my dress will be soaked with dew and mud. But mud washes out and I think dresses are more comfortable in the hot humid weather we have been having recently.

      Just keep it up, and it will become more comfortable with time.
      Gina

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    2. Thanks Gina, I will keep it up. xxx

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  3. This is my first year of growing strawberries. They started out great, but now the caterpillars are taking over. Any ideas on how to keep them out without using pesticides? How big of a strawberry patch do you have? I would love to be able to put up that many strawberries for the year. They are one of my favorite fruits!

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    Replies
    1. Caterpillars on strawberries in one problem I've never encountered. Any of you other readers have any suggestions?
      Gina

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  4. Well that makes me feel better. :) My patch looks just like yours, with the same problems. I can't wait until the fall when we move it and start over with proper rows and no pricker weeds! I went to a local farm to pick this year since our patch is so bad. I just wasn't able to get to it with trying to sell the house last year. At least the muscles in my legs are getting a work out fro all the strange ways I have to bent to get at the berries we do have!

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  5. Our tiller won't start right now and we always plant the garden on Memorial Day... so all day in the heat I turned soil and planted and turned soil and planted. It took a while and I was sore the next day, but it is such a joy to be out there in the sun and fresh air. I work in an office full time and am happy to get outside.

    One of the projects I did this year was to transplant strawberries. We have two patches. One is a June-bearing that years ago I bought one solitary plant to put into a strawberry pot when we lived in Vermont... probably 10 years ago. Now there are hundreds of daughter plants from that one and they were getting crowded and weedy. They seem to migrate across the top of the garden and we just plant other stuff around them. Hopefully rows will keep them in check... am I being too optimistic?

    Our other strawberries came to us in March of 2010 from Gurneys. There was still 2 feet of snow on the ground, so they lived in the fridge for another month and a half. By the time I planted them there were only 2 or 3 that made it. Now there are many and they are filling in their space. These are everbearing berries. What type do you have? I have never had ever-bearing, so not sure what to expect.

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    Replies
    1. Mrs. Dough -
      I have the June bearing type. I have wondered how the everbearing berries do. It would be fun to have berries over a longer length of time.
      Gina

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  6. Here is a very easy way to grow strawberries without the problem of weeds.
    Every year after the berries are done, I till all the plants under except a narrow strip. Each year that strip is closer toward the center of the garden. When I reach the far end (width) of my garden, I will start to till under the outside edge and gradually move the patch toward the middle again. This avoids the problem of weeds and you always have fresh plants because you are using the runners that are put out. It keeps it tidy and relatively weed-free. I hope that makes sense.
    ~Jan

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    Replies
    1. Jan -
      I love this idea! I may need to try your technique!
      Gina

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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