Saturday, May 14, 2011

In The Strawberry Patch

It's hard to believe that strawberries are coming in ripe already for some of you readers. Not so up here in the North Woods. We don't start harvesting until around the 4th of July.

Even though I'm not doing my usual gardening this year, I've still got our three berry patches to take care of. Out of the three (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries), the strawberry patch with approximately 145-150 plants is the most weed-filled so that's where I'm concentrating my efforts this weekend. We had a heavy downpour last night and the ground is pretty wet . . . but at least this means the weeds are coming out easily. (I'll take all the help I can get.)

Last fall we mulched the strawberries with evergreen boughs for the first time. We usually use old hay or straw but found ourselves short on that mulching material and we had had three or four huge evergreens go down in a wind storm which meant we had a big stack of boughs we were planning on burning. I checked a couple of resources and because strawberries like an acidic soil, evergreen boughs were actually recommended to use as winter mulch. I think those boughs ended up riding a couple of miles around our property by the time we had hauled them out into the field and added them to the burn pile and then hauled them back into the garden to cover the strawberries. (Oh well, we needed that extra exercise loading and unloading the boughs, right?)

How did the boughs work? Good. And not so good. Looks as though they provided the cover needed to keep the plants from freezing and thawing, freezing and thawing, but they did not keep down the weeds as the more dense hay or straw mulch does. If I had my choice, I won't use the boughs again.

We uncovered the patch last Saturday (one week ago) and much to my dismay there were already healthy, green weeds standing tall next to, in and around the plants.

The above picture is pretty much what the whole patch looked like when I started working this morning. Not good.

Here's a shot of part of one double row I've got finished. Although there are some sparse looking spots, as soon as the plants start growing they will fill in those area jiffy-quick. Plus, I think I'll move a couple of those plants on the right that have gotten a little out of line.

Okay, I've rested long enough. I came in for a pit stop and a drink and sat down here at the computer when I shouldn't have. Up and at 'em. Back out here I go.


  1. Once I sit down, thats IT for the day. I lose all motivation.
    I'm glad you'll at least have berries this summer. I still can't believe you're not going to have a big ol'honkin garden this year. It's wrong, I tell ya!

  2. Okay, Ms. Smarty Pants, you are not helping at all! ;o) I am suffering (SUFFERING, do you hear me?) so much not doing the big ol' honkin' garden this year. Not only is it wrong, it's just not right! Gardening is what I do! It's what I am! But bottom line, I can't do everything. (Yeah, I know. It took me many long, hard, punishing years to realize that, too.) Besides, I'm planning regular midnight raids on your garden . . . and pantry shelves come fall. :o}

  3. All that weeding would kill my hands.....(and knees, and back, and legs......) :-)

  4. I think I am dubbing this the year of the weed. I can not believe how thick and lush they are coming in. I just checked out my poor onions and there are millions of little weeds growing everywhere around them. And it is so hard to pull those weeds without disrupting the little onion. So it may not be the boughs didnt work, its just these super weeds are amazing.

  5. I see at least one blueberry cobbler in your future! lol

  6. Dr. Momi -Yupper! When I do a bunch of weeding I ALWAYS notice how stiff and sore my hands are . . . at least the first few sessions. Then I toughen up and it doesn't seem to bother me as much. (I am woman, hear me roar! Haha.)

    Jane - I wonder if it has anything to do with all the rain we all seem to have gotten this spring? The year of the weed. Ugh. I don't think I'm looking forward to that. :o\

  7. judy - Oh, for sure! And strawberry and raspberry and . . .

    We have just one full gallon and maybe two quarts of blueberries left in the freezer from last season so I have to take care of my bushes so they give me a good crop this year!

  8. Having had my own battles with strawberries, I can appreciate this. Good experiment with the evergreen boughs. Too bad it didn't work. We have a lot of them and pine needles.

  9. I was weeding our strawberries earlier this week and disturbed a huge, old garter snake sunning him(or her)self. I jumped back about 10 feet and moved to a different part of the bed!
    I agree with Jane- it's the year of the weed. It was cold for so long, we had a warm spell and they suddenly appeared- like magic! Now, i just wish they would disappear like magic.
    Good luck with your weeding.

  10. Looks like you were very busy weeding this weekend. We got some herbs planted this weekend but compared to your strawberry patch it's nothing.

    We finally have the needed wood for the raised beds and hopefully tomorrow will get them up and maybe even filled with soil. We are a bit late but we'll still get some veges from them.

  11. We didn't mulch our strawberries and they did great over the winter. This year the strawberry beds look so healthy and amazing and we see a lot of berries forming. It's so exciting!

  12. Do you have a stirrup hoe? I find that and raking lightly to gather the weeds after is easier on my back, although yours will probably hurt anyways with such a large area! I can't wait to see all those berries - the kids told me they liked your jam better than mine, the nerve of them LOL! Too bad those boughs didn't help with the weeds, they indeed must love acidic soil, ours is VERY acidic here, azaleas and rhododendrons grow fantastic here because of it and berries are a big cash crop here. But yours don't need too much help in that department by the looks of your harvest last year! Did you get sidetracked wandering around the big box stores on your recent trip for supplies LOL?!

  13. Wow, know that feeling of sitting down....make that mistake every single night after I get home from work. Need to take advantage of the sunshine more. We won't have strawberries for a long time either here in NH. Blueberries and raspberries grow wild near my parent's, we are hoping to get some picked this year.

  14. Leigh - I suppose my one-year experiment doesn't really prove anything . . . ? But I probably won't have that many boughs again to try another time. If you have pine needles you could easily gather, I would think that would be great for growing season mulch for your strawberries.

    Judy - If I had disturbed a snake in my patch, I would have jumped all the way into YOUR patch!

    Sparkless - Oh, we sure to take pictures of your raised bed construction. We all want to go through the process with you!

  15. meemsnyc - Wish our winters were such that we could get by without mulching! That would be one chore (putting it on AND taking it off) I would gladly skip! Here's hoping you get a wonderful harvest this year!

    Erin - I find that if I don't get out the weeds' roots, it's much like pruning to get a healthier, more robust plant! They come right back on me in about three days!

    Our trip went well. We both were on track and stayed right on target. Got in, got out and no wandering with heads in the clouds!

    Stephanie - I well remember the difficulty of transitioning from work work to home work each night! Not easy to do, but you're right. The secret is not to let yourself sit down!

  16. I can vouch for the Year of the Weed...already. And we're having 2 cool days of rain so far too...that will help. sigh....

    ON the bright side though, there are things coming up all over the garden already...radishes and and lettuce and spinach. Haven't been out there today,. but the temps plummeted to the mid 50's for a high, so I suspect it'll slow things down.

    I just cannot imagine not having the garden.

  17. Well I bet that even if they don't come on as good as they do being mulched with straw you might have a bunch left from last year?? You are afterall the Strawbery Queen!

  18. Weeds - ugh! Will you have to continue to weed the beds you are not using this year? Or can you just let those go and till them when you need them again (next year??)

  19. Akannie - I will be gardening through all the rest of you this year. Salivating over you gorgeous pictures and harvests. So keep feeding me all you have!!

    APG - I gotta confess, I do indeed have frozen strawberries, dehydrated strawberries, strawberry syrup and strawberry jam left over from last year. I'm planning on selling fresh strawberries this year to help pay for the organic veggies I'm not growing but will have to buy!

    Jen - No, I won't let the weeds take hold this year. We'll be planting cover crops in the raised beds, field garden and pumpkin patch. We'll sow heavily so the weeds will (hopefully) be kept down but if I see any . . . INSTANT DEATH BY PULLING!