Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Strawed Berries

Sometimes, Easter is a day for jelly beans and Easter egg hunts.  This year, Easter was a day for brunch with friends and gardening with my Mom.

When I expanded the MKG this year, I wanted space to plant perennials: artichoke, rhubarb and asparagus.  My 5' x 12' bed is designated for two artichoke plants and one rhubarb plant.  Around here, artichokes can grow to monstrous proportions so it will be necessary to have such a big bed one day.  But for the next couple years, there will be a big gap around the edges of the bed while those plants fill in.

I considered planting root veggies like carrots, beets, and radishes around the edges.  But then I remembered strawberries, the ultimate taste of summer.  I planted them three years ago and discovered that Snoutface is partial to strawberries, too.  I didn't get a harvest (she did- they were right at snout height) and I sort of forgot about them.  But the space around the edge of the perennial bed is perfect for a strawberry patch!

The bed perimeter is 34 linear feet - just right for 30 strawberries at one-foot spacing.  I selected three different varieties from the nursery: Albion (12), Sequoia (12) and Seascape (6).  The Albion and Seascape are day-neutral; the Sequoia is June-bearing. 

To give the plants a good head start, we trimmed all the baby berries and flowers off once the strawberries were in the ground.  This allows them to devote energy to establishing roots in their new home.  Some sources suggest pinching off all the flowers that first year, but that's just crazy talk.  I am willing to wait for my asparagus, but there is no way I'm going to eliminate an entire strawberry crop. Some things I am just impatient about. 

We also made sure to dig good compost into the bed where the strawberries are planted, and set up a drip irrigation system for them.  The story of the drip irrigation is a post for another day...  The last step in completing the bed was to mulch it with straw and drape bird netting over it.

And the result?  The bed below: 1 rhubarb, 1 artichoke and 30 strawed berries!

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