Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Strawberry Patch Gets a Buzz Cut

July 15th was the last day I picked strawberries from our patch this year. There were a few more berries ripe and ready after that but I had had it. Did I tell you what our total strawberry harvest in pounds was this year? AN ASTOUNDING 174 POUNDS AND 6 OUNCES. I'd call that a pretty good strawberry year.

Hubby went out three times after the last time I picked to gather just enough for his lunch time smoothie, but I let any that ripened after that go.

This is the strawberry patch as it looked this past Thursday. All spent, weedy, and ready for a rest. (That's a good description of how I look right now.)

Now it's time to cut the plants down. We mow them with the lawn mower and bag all the old leaves and stems. The mower is set high enough so that the crown of the plant isn't touched. The debris gets put in the compost heap.

Going, going . . . two of the double rows have been mowed here. One more double row to go.

Hardly looks like the same patch of strawberries, but it's remarkable how quickly they grow back.

Cutting down the plants after they're finished bearing for the year is a process that works for us. Shortly after being cut, the plants' new growth will make them look like healthy, young plants again. They won't form blossoms again this season but stay as green and growing plants until we cover them in late fall with a heavy layer of mulch for the winter months.

Their nice long rest from now until next spring is well deserved because they sure did provide us with an abundance of beautiful, nutritious berries this year.

14 comments:

Erin said...

Oh. My. Gosh! So tell us, Strawberry Goddess, what did you DO with them all? Did you sell them? That patch looks so clean and new again, I can't wait to be able to haul out the dead and dying in the garden... soon!

Mama Pea said...

Erin - I made copious amounts of jams in pint jars for us and 1/2 pint jars (Christmas gifts?), dehydrated more of them than I've ever done before for tossing in granola, trail mix, snacks, etc., froze a lot for smoothies or sauce over ice cream or hot oatmeal, etc., and after that sold a bunch to both our local organic food co-op and a restaurant in town that tries to use as much organically grown food as possible.

Signed,
The spent, weedy, and ready for a rest Strawberry Goddess

meemsnyc said...

174 pounds of strawberries! Oh wow! That is absolutely amazing! How much do you cover it with mulch? This is my first time planting strawberries, and not sure how to address the winter.

Mama Pea said...

meemsnyc - We mulch with straw or old hay and probably pile it on about a foot thick initially. Of course, it settles quite a bit and then if we're lucky, we get a nice blanket of snow on top of that which really helps insulate.

I don't know for sure but I'm thinking our winters are a little more severe than in your part of the country? It's not unusual for us to have temps ten to twenty below zero during the winter.

Patty said...

Thanks for showing us what you do with the berry plants to get them ready for fall. It's so nice to learn these things from ppl who've done them, and VERY successfully too! I'll be tucking that one away for later.

Stephanie said...

Wonderful post Mama Pea!! Thanks for sharing the tips!

joven said...
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Kelly said...

I am happy to read that method works for you. It had been our plan until our patch became un-mowable.....maybe I should go out with hand clippers instead.

Mama Pea said...

Patty - Hope it works for you as well as it has for us!

Stephanie - You're very welcome!

Kelly - What happened to your patch that it's unmowable?

Kelly said...

Our other fruit trees and shrubs have grown in and spread, so there just isn't room to manuver around (we are cramped in, on a slope- not in beautiful orderly rows). It would be time consuming, but I would be willing. Of course, we didn't get more than 3 berries for ourselves this year thanks to the dogs and critters eating them first (me rolling my eyes).

Leigh said...

Gosh, I'm behind on all sorts of interesting posts over here. I'm absolutely amazed at your strawberry poundage this year! How big is your patch? I take it you do this every year(?) I planted my first strawberries in the spring, and so need to know what to do with them this fall.

Mama Pea said...

Kelly - Sounds like you need to fence the doggies out of the strawberries! 'Course it's pretty hard to do that with chipmunks and other little critters.

Leigh - I've got four double rows of strawberries for a total of around 150 plants. The whole area devoted to the strawberries measures 16' x 16'. Yep, we mow them down every year after they've stopped bearing. And always cover them with mulch for the winter.

Melissa said...

We planted ours this spring, so should we mow ours now as well?

Mama Pea said...

Melissa - No, not this very first year. Let the plants put all their energy into establishing a strong root system rather than having to grow more leaves now.