Everybody loves strawberries! Strawberry pie, Strawberry Shortcake, plain ole strawberries! But those you get at the grocery store sure take a lot of sugar, because lets face it, they just are NOT sweet! The reason is, they have to be picked and shipped before they are red and ripe, before they are fully developed and sweet. You will not believe the difference in taste when you pick a red ripe strawberry and eat it within hours of picking.
Before buying plants, you need to carefully decide on the spot where you want to grow them. Strawberry plants are perennials, meaning they live more than one season, and you will want to give them a permanent home. Choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun and where they can grow without being disturbed, and can sprawl out a bit.
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For ease of care you might choose to go with raised beds. When shopping for my own raised beds, these were my favorites:
And if you are gardening on your patio or deck, I love the look of this one:
We had a huge garden when I was growing up and the strawberry bed was even humongous-er, more like a field of strawberries. My memory could be a little skewed, but I remember a lot of fresh strawberries and a lot of frozen ones later in the year. Since I’ve been grown, I have never grown any strawberries of my own and I decided that THIS is the year to do so.
For aesthetics and design reasons, I wanted multiple beds and since I am
cheap frugal, I asked Mr. Menace if he wanted to make me some. Using 9 landscape timbers which cost us $37, he made me 3 small hexagon shaped beds. The first one in my list of favorites above, the hexagon shaped one, was what I was going to use, but at $110 each, three of them was going to be pricey! #thankyoumrmenace
These beds are just a smaller version of his own Apiary design, so he already had all the plans and kinks worked out and it didn’t take him long to cut the timbers and connect them into the hexagon shape. I did warn him though, that I wasn’t sure if this would hold enough plants to feed us, so he just might have to make me another set…
Using the last of my homemade compost from last year filled these strawberry beds about half way and top soil was used to finish filling them. If you don’t have homemade compost, (I recommend you get started on a compost pile for next year!), you can purchase bagged compost and top soil. My favorite brand is Black Kow for manure, top soil and compost.
So after you get them filled with dirt, its time to start planting. My little country hardware store had two varieties of strawberries for sale, so I bought a flat of each. One was an everbearing and one was June bearing. I guess I’ll be letting you know next year which one does better for me and which one I prefer taste wise. And actually I think I will like having the mixture of the two. The Junebearing, is suppose to have one heavy harvest of berries in (you guessed it!) June or maybe a little earlier here in Alabama. The Everbearing ones are suppose to have a more gradual and longer lasting harvest but fewer at a time.
From this angle, doesn’t this resemble a certain famous mouse with big black ears?
You will get bigger and better fruit if you are courageous and pick off any and all blossoms the first year. OUCH! so hard to do… but then, I’m like that about growing things… I have a difficult time pulling up or getting rid of, or even composting, any plant that has the slightest touch of green… no matter how dead the rest of it is! #tenderhearted
After being in the ground for 3 or 4 weeks, the Everbearing strawberries do seem to look healthier than the June bearing ones. We’ve had a few chilly nights, no frost though, and I’m thinking this might be cold damage on the outer leaves (the middle of the plants look great!). Actually we did have one frost since I planted these, but I covered all the plants that night.
While the Everbearing ones look beautifully full and green!
I did force myself to pull off the blossoms and small berries that had formed, and will continue to do so for this summer. Fingers crossed that its worth it, because I am sure we did NOT do this when I was a kid. But I’ll call my Mama just to make sure.
The first year, it is recommended that you cut off the runners so that your plant can put all its energy into growing the main plant. Then the next year allow about 3 runners per plant, for new plants, but cut off the rest. It is also recommended that you mulch around the plants with straw to hold the berries off the dirt. Again though, we did not do this in the olden days. A little dirt on the berries never hurt us….
I am so anxious for berries!!! Have you grown strawberries? Let me know in the comments.