Friday, August 5, 2011


In an effort to include our two small boys in this year's garden, we let them choose some favorite seeds and plants last spring.  They chose well, and it should come as no surprise that we ended up with both strawberries and blueberries.  Both have surprisingly produced a small harvest this summer, which is not typical for the first year.  Because we've enjoyed them so much, we've decided to expand our berry growing efforts.  In fact, one of this weekend's projects is to properly define and mulch the berry bed, and move the blueberries from their spot in the garden to along side their blackberry and raspberry friends.  More on that to come.

We knew immediately back in May that we had underestimated our strawberry consumption, so we created a strawberry patch in our herb bed.  There was plenty of room, and I love having a plot that is functional, tasty, and still easy on the eyes.  Who needs begonias, anyway?  Not all of the baby strawberry plants survived the transplant, but I'm happy with what we have so far and will look forward to adding more next year.  They make a remarkably lush and pretty flowerbed.  We chose a Day Neutral variety which means that the fruit will not grow as big, but it is more abundant and can be found throughout the spring, summer, and fall growing season.  These plants do produce some runners and will grow in subsequent years to help us fill our bed.  Other options include June Bearing (one large, singular harvest) or Everbearing (another continual harvest variety that does not produce runners).  The boys think they've found a treasure whenever they find a little red spot among all that green.  While we've yet to have a homegrown strawberry make it inside the house, I love watching my little gardeners enjoy the fruits of their labors.

My father-in-law passed along a tip that I've since happened upon in some reading as well.  It has put the kibosh on strawberry snacking for this summer, but only because it will improve next year's harvest.  For the first year of your plant's development, remove the flower blossoms off all plants as soon as they appear.  This will allow the plant to concentrate its efforts on developing a stronger root system and a more substantial crown (what you call the base of the plant).  In turn, this creates a heartier plant that will produce more strawberries the next growing season.
So, go ahead.  Pinch their little heads off.  Depending on the day, you might find it slightly therapeutic.

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