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Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries. All irresistible to my family… and to pests! For this reason, these fruits are contaminated with pesticide residues and are on the top of the Dirty Dozen list, yes, that is a real thing!
How hazardous are these chemicals that they use in strawberry farms? Some are linked to cancer, reproductive damage, and hormone disruption. In the old days, strawberries were a special treat but limited to the summer months; now, it is an all-year fruit that requires more pesticides to maintain the crops all year round. I don’t have to continue the conversation about how many chemicals you eat when you put that red, juicy strawberry in your mouth!
For this reason, I have decided to start my own strawberry garden. There are three types of strawberries you can grow.
Three kinds of Strawberries
- June-bearing is a plant that has one huge crop of berries per year. June is usually the time frame when you will see the fruit.
- Ever-bearing plants have more modest size crops, and they start producing as soon as there are 12 hours of daylight, and they continue to bear fruit until the hours of daylight decrease.
- Day-neutral Strawberries are plant types that have three peak times of fruiting. Usually, these peak in early June, Mid July, and late August. It’s nice for a whole summer of strawberries.
I wanted to start with some plants for my strawberry garden from Gardeners.com, but they sold out. I mean, ALL of them were sold out! This tells me they must be great plants, and I will have to look earlier next year! I have heard lots of good things about the fertilizers and plants from this company, so I am eager to try them. Meanwhile, I bought them from my local farmer’s market. I did not go to the chain stores because, of course, they look great, but when you look at the roots of the plants, they are so much larger and healthier when they are cared for by the people who grow the plants themselves.
Strawberry Garden Planting Basics
When planting strawberries, you have a few things to remember. Let us start with the basics. It is best to plant strawberries in the spring, you can start several weeks before the last frost date. When you plant a range of strawberry varieties, you can harvest strawberries from late spring to early fall. To begin, look for varieties described as ‘early-season,’ then choose a mid-season variety, followed by a late-season strawberry.
I used a Miracle Grow potting soil. I like to start with the soil because that is where the plant gets all its nutrients. So if you have good soil, your strawberries will thrive and taste sweet!
Once you get the soil base down, you need to plant your strawberries. I chose six ever-bearing plants and 6 June-bearing plants. For a family of 4, they recommend 24-28 plants, but I wanted to get a feel for which ones I liked first, and eventually, I can swap the ones I don’t like out. The Ever-bearing plants will likely be my favorite because my children like to take swim breaks and pick them as a snack. The planters suggest that you plant them 12 to 18 inches apart, but I did about 8 inches. Keeping them close will maximize the pollination and help keep weeds down. The picture below shows my current plants.
I do NOT want these plants to have to be drenched in pesticides, which is why I started this project. Two weeks into planting my bed, I noticed holes in my leaves, and I saw slugs and snails at a closer look! So I figured I had to get to know my enemy. I found out slugs and snails dislike climbing, so I placed straw down. That has worked wonders! Plus, something else is that it helps to get the strawberries off the ground! In the old days, you used garden wire to tie each group of strawberries off the ground. That requires too much work, but I did find that Gardens.com has a circular plate called strawberry supports that sit around the plant base, and it keeps the strawberries off the ground, so they are not sitting where ants, slugs, and snails are. Since I started using this combined with hay, I have seen that there are not as many holes in my leaves. I highly recommend the strawberry supports!
The Winchester Gardens Select Organics is something you place around the plant to fertilize it. I also am using a 2-3-4 Berry Fertilizer from Gardeners.com. I have not seen the results except that in under one week, my leaves look a darker green color. I hope to see the results by the end of summer.
Something else to do is remove all the flowers (that turn into strawberries) and runners from the plants so that the energy the plant gives off will go to make the roots stronger and not make a berry or “runner” plant. I have been assured that this will result in a large harvest in July and August, and an even better one next year. Again, what happens under the soil is more important than what you can see above the soil. Keeping the plants well-watered and fertilized will result in a bigger and juicer berry.
Protecting Your Strawberry Garden
Sharing your plant with birds? Nope! While I don’t mind them picking at a few things in my garden, I certainly do not want them to eat my berries. I have heard if you color red rocks and place them in the garden, the birds get a negative feeling when they don’t sink into the berry, so they leave the area alone. I don’t trust that method. Being a new strawberry gardener, I want to enjoy the few berries I get all by myself this year! I will go with bird netting. Gardeners.com sent me some Bird-Safe Woven Bird Netting. It fit very nicely over my bamboo cover. So far, it has worked well!
With these few tips and products, I promise your strawberries will be better and healthier than those you buy at the market. In addition, you will be satisfied knowing they are healthy and safe for you and your kids!
Easy Peasy Strawberry Recipe
Bring your fresh strawberries camping with you or have a fire in your backyard. Dip the Strawberry in the marshmallow fluff and toast it on top of the fire. Toast it until it is perfectly brown, then drizzle Hershey chocolate syrup on top. Enjoy! Also, visit our strawberries on a stick easy snack idea for kids.
🍓 Gardeners.com Giveaway 🍓 CLOSED
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