|
|
The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Gradening to Distraction: Easy-to-grow strawberries

  • One of the first plants I ever grew in Missouri were wild strawberries. I used them as border plants in several garden spots I lined with the other crop I tend to successfully grow – rocks.
    • email print
      Comment
  • One of the first plants I ever grew in Missouri were wild strawberries. I used them as border plants in several garden spots I lined with the other crop I tend to successfully grow – rocks.
    Little did I know until a 2004 family reunion that our family on my Hungarian father’s side had hundreds of years of history growing strawberries. Uncle Tony was consoling my sister-in-law and I after 10 pounds of carefully-hulled, locally-grown strawberries had disappeared with one of my brothers, who said making pies out of them was a waste of perfectly good pie crust.
    If you can hold on to them once you have some, growing strawberries is easy. You don’t even need a garden space; you can do it in hanging baskets or pots, as long as they have at least 12-14 inches of rich soil. I have pulled several hanging strawberry baskets through winter hanging them in a sunny window and not allowing one of my cats to mistake it for fresh catnip.
    If you want to grow strawberries in a garden, choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Spade it 8-10 inches deep and add compost or well-rotted manure.
    It doesn't have to be in a set aside garden. I have all kinds of strawberry plants growing as border plants all through my garden. It's fun to walk through and pick a berry, or two,  along the way. The only issue I have growing strawberries is that periodically I have to retrieve plants that have slipped down the hillside.
    When planting, trim bare roots to about 4 inches long and plant only to the plant collar – if you plant it deeper it suffocates the plant; if you want it more shallow, the plant will struggle to establish itself, although I have been able to bury plants that lost soil around roots after a good pounding rain.
    Plant about 2 feet apart; that gives plantlets, or runner plants, enough space to plant themselves in between parent plants. It’s also best to pinch off flowers during the first year so the plant will focus on establishing strong roots. I haven’t always been patient enough to wait a year. Those first, early strawberries have tended to be smaller.
    In terms of varieties, I have tried several different kinds and am now happily growing two everbearing, or day neutral ones: Quinaut and Tri-Star. These varieties bloom continuously regardless of the amount of sunlight they get so I should get a continuous crop from June through fall.
    I added straw to my first bed two years ago and recommend it; the straw helped keep weeds down, moderated soil moisture, protected berries from wildlife and made working the soil easier, especially as I added plants this year.
    Page 2 of 2 - Commercially-grown strawberries are high maintenance, using wasteful amounts of water, chemical fertilizers, some of the worst pesticides imaginable and are shipped thousands of miles so they are picked before they are ripe. By growing my own, I not only can raise strawberries in an environmentally-friendly way but the berries I pick are at their height of freshness and flavor, without pesticides – assuming I beat my brothers, and turtles, to them!

        calendar