December 28, 2020

Strawberries 101


And so, she decided to grow strawberries...

My grandfather had an excellent traditional strawberry patch. Long rows, evenly spaced, stretched across the hillside. If memory serves, he had five rows and practiced a rotation to keep his plants young and healthy. For example, row one would be an empty row. When the other four rows sent out runners, he'd snip the best set and plant them in row one. Then at the end of the producing season, he'd dig out row two. The next year, he'd replant row two with new sets. It worked wonderfully. For decades, we all had an abundance of fresh strawberries every year. 

Fast forward to 2020 and my own aspirations to grow strawberries. It won't be on such a grand scale, that's for sure. Pop put in a lot of work to keep his berry patch going. I don't need to supply strawberries to five households plus sell to the neighborhood. I want enough to make a batch or two of jelly and perhaps freeze a few quarts to make ice cream throughout the next year. Make a batch of strawberry cordial. Small things. 

For us, right now, container gardening is our best option. I've purchased grow bags, and yes, they have one made for strawberries. Check.

Where to place the bag? In a location that gets six to eight hours of sun daily. Check.

Soil requirements. Strawberries need loose, well-draining soil. The plan is to add some vermiculite to a bag of garden soil, and they'll be in a grow bag that drains well. Check.

Feed the plants something with potassium in it. I use Miracle-Gro. Check.

Should I treat the container-grown plants as annuals or perennials? I'd like to see if they'll winter over in the bags so they'll need to go to the greenhouse in the fall. 

What variety did I choose? AC Wendy from Burpees. We'll see how these do. The plan is to plant in this first set of grow bags with the purchased bare-root plants. If they live and do well, I'll get a second set of bags to plant the sets. 

Will I be the gardener my grandfather was? Nope. It'll never happen. But I do hope to enjoy fresh strawberries free of pesticides again. Trust me - homegrown berries are a lot sweeter. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor

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