April 18, 2011 | 11:04 am
Strawberries are my favorite fruit and so much fun for little ones to pick. We transformed one of our vegetable garden beds into a strawberry bed. I am loosing an entire vegetable bed to strawberries, but I feel that the little red fruit, packed with vitamin C, is well worth the sacrifice. Strawberries are perennials and with proper maintenance they will bless my family with nutritious fruit summer after summer.
From the picture, you can see that two of my girls were arm deep in “dirt” helping me plant. The plastic shovels and oversized garden gloves proved to be essential tools in their efforts to help me. I love their enthusiasm for gardening right now, and I hope they continue to embrace this passion of mine.
When we decided to add strawberries to our garden, our first step was to decide what type of strawberries to plant. It’s important to find varieties that grow well in your garden zone. I recommend buying your plants locally as opposed to purchasing them from a seed catalog. Local garden centers will carry varieties that grow well where you live. Another great source of information would be your friend who gardens. They will be able to tell you what grows well in their garden and will recommend a variety to you.
There are two types of strawberries:
- June Bearing – They produce strawberries during one time period. I chose to plant two different types of June bearing plants. By planting an early maturing strawberry and a mid maturing strawberry, I can extend our harvest over a longer period of time.
- Ever Bearing – They produce strawberries twice a year; late summer and fall. Generally the second crop fruit is smaller and not as sweet.
To prepare the garden bed for planting, we used a hoe to break up the soil. We added compost to the bed and mixed it into the existing soil with the hoe. Next, we leveled the soil with a rake. We dug holes in rows. Ideally they would be straight rows but with the help of my little gardeners, our rows turned out crooked!
In each hole we mixed a slow release fertilizer with the soil. I like to use a slow release fertilizer because it’s a one-time easy way to feed my plants. It slowly releases nutrients (N-P-K) for the plant over a period of time, generally four months. I am always careful to follow label directions when adding the fertilizer. Over or under using fertilizer benefits no one.
We are carefully watching; when the soil is dry, we water. It’s important not to let the new strawberry transplants get too dry. Their roots are shallow and not well established, without adequate watering, they will dry up and die.
To ensure an abundant harvest and a healthy strawberry patch, it’s recommended that you remove the first-year blooms from the strawberries. The blooms are the beginning of a new fruit and large amounts of energy are used to grow a strawberry. By removing the bloom the plant puts that energy into the roots, helping produce bigger juicier strawberries next year.
Removing blooms created a wave of questions from my little gardeners. They were sad when I told them they will have to wait an entire year to pick strawberries. An excellent lesson in delayed gratification!! I love lessons taught in the garden – especially when the lesson involves my favorite fruit!