Perennially Awesome: The Strawberry

Before I can even open the door, I start to hear the scurrying of little people getting ready for Daddy to come home from work.  Big Boy squeals and clumsily wields his cherub thighs toward the back door while the girls hide under the table anticipating my ‘finding them’ by noisily giggling to each other.  Once the welcoming ceremony is concluded, one of the girls inevitably asks, “Can we get strawberries?”   “Of course,” I say and we parade outside with or without shoes.

It doesn’t get any better.  June is a great month for gardeners and what better way to enter the beginning of summer like strawberry season.  If you have a home on Long Island and little children and NOT growing strawberries you are doing a huge disservice to whole family.  They are awesome for so many reasons:

  •                 Kids love them
  •                 Very Nutritious
  •                 Easy to Grow
  •                 Save Money
  •                 Multiply like crazy

June is the month were strawberries will peak in your garden and provide multitudes of strawberries every day.  Like most plants you’ll want to put them in a sunny area and have well-draining soil but that’s basically it.  I throw some compost around the plants at the beginning of the spring and leaves in fall.    Two varieties that I’ve had great success with are:  Quinault (everbearing) and Sequoia (June bearing).  Before planting in the yard I bought one container of each that I was able to separate into four plants in a long window container.  I heard that if you cut off the blooms the first year the plant will concentrate its energy into producing a stronger root structure and will therefore produce bigger and more plentiful crops in the second year.  I experimented by clipping two and letting the others produce and while it was fun to eat the mini strawberries in the first year, the clipped plants did much better the second year.  So have patience and nip those blossoms in year one.

After production each plant will start sending out runners also known as daughters where new strawberry plants will form at the end of the line.  My four plants turned into at least 12 plants the following year, in the 30’s the next year and I have so many now that I give them away to any interested friends and family.

This is still the start of my blogging journey but one thing I need to mention alluding to future posts is that most of these plants can be stacked meaning don’t think of them only as fruit producers.  Strawberries are an awesome ground cover for shading out the sun and retaining moisture for larger plants such as grape vines (which I am doing right now for my concord grapes) or trees, bushes, etc.  You want to move toward keeping your garden experience enjoyable and not a labor.  This will keep your picking to maintenance ratio more in your favor.

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Get out there, don’t sweat the details, and grow, grow, grow.