Saturday, April 11, 2015

Growing Strawberries 2014

Today my family officially started moving back into our ‘summer home’....better known as The Farm. With the nice weather and the lack of snow, the yearly maintenance work of the garden beds begins.
The task for the week is the remaking of the strawberry beds. Strawberries bear best on 2 year old plants. With yearly division and replanting, your strawberry beds will remain highly productive. This type of planting requires some forethought and planning. Ideally, you have made space for one mature bed of strawberry plants (2 year old bed) and a second bed prepped out for spring transplanting of last year’s runners from the strawberries in your mature bed. The runners from last year can be clipped and separated from their parents and planted into this empty, spring bed.
When creating a new strawberry bed, several factors are necessary for the success of the planting. The most important prep work is the thorough weeding and de-grassing of any new area that is being planted to berries. Strawberries are relatively resilient plants and can handle a minor amount of abuse and neglect but the one thing they cannot tolerate is competition with grass. Please take the time to remove all grass roots before planting your bed, you will be thankful for your attention to detail later on. If you are starting new beds and are removing sections of lawn to do so, the best approach is to dig out the section of lawn for planting a year in advance. The optimal time of year for killing grass is mid-summer. Step one is shutting off any irrigation to the site to be de-grassed. Once the irrigation has been turned off, the grass can be cut into strips and flipped over to bake in the sun using a flat bladed shovel. After several weeks, the grass should be brown and dry and the soil can be shook loose. The grass clods can then be moved to your yard waste bin. Weeding of this new bed should be done again in the spring before planting to remove any grass roots you may have missed the previous summer.

Since strawberries are heavy feeders, your bed should be properly fertilized before planting. In addition, fruit set cannot occur without regular and consistent irrigation.  Simple irrigation can be created using ½” or ¾” poly tubing with a dripper placed at each strawberry crown.  Make it easy on yourself and hook the irrigation system up to a timer so that watering is predictable and regular. Happy Gardening!

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