Strawberry Fields For . . . At Least Another Year

I’ve been able to maintain my strawberries continuously for the 21 years we’ve had a garden here. My first berries were starts we got from a local lady who no longer lives in the area, Jan Lewein. They are a June bearing variety, but we have no idea of the name. The second batch was from my son Geoff, who got them from his job at Nokomis Gardens in East Troy, Wisconsin. These are Honeyeye, also a June bearer. Both varieties are excellent and we’ve been able to keep the beds vigorous, healthy and productive for going on 22 years.

What it takes to keep the strains going is a constant rotation and transplanting of new growth plants while discarding the old. I rotate two beds through my garden. I transplant the beds completely every three years. Both varieties send out lots of runners, so there are always lots of new plants in the spring. They wander into the paths. When I’m not going through a complete bed transplant, I just take any plants that establish themselves in the paths and find an empty spot in the bed then dig them out of the path and transplant them back into the bed.

But every third year I start a fresh bed, as you can see in the top picture. This bed contains 66 plants, three across and in a grid about 16 by 12 inches. I’ve planted these in a very leafy bed, which I hope will assist in both weed control and in feeding the plants. I don’t have any needles in the bed yet, but I’ve found that the berries like a mulch of pine needles. I’ve got lots of those, so if I get to it, they will be added to both the new bed and the two year old bed.

The second picture shows the weed infested three year olds bed that gave me the transplants. I will clean it out and build it up for something else.

Strawberries have been kind of a pain for me to keep weeded. This year, I am going to experiment with heavier mulches. But the weeds don’t usually establish themselves until after the harvest. Chickweed thrives, and dandelions like strawberries a lot, too. Nevertheless, the berries are delicious. When harvests are bountiful we get to put up preserves and freeze berries for wonderful winter treats. And strawberries and rhubarb, whether in a pie, a crisp, or just in a sauce with ice cream or yoghurt are a combination that is just too good.

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