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?