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Should the Lazy Gardener Attempt Strawberries?

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Should the Lazy Gardener Attempt Strawberries?

Post  dk54321 on 8/22/2015, 9:11 pm

My garden always ends up neglected at some point or other during the year. Some plants can recover with a little care later in the season, while others will quickly become hopeless. 

I've had the most success with tomatoes. Once established and heavily mulched, tomato plants survive almost anything. If I water them, or we get plenty of rain, the vines reach the tops of the frames by early August, just in time for the first ripe fruit. Peak harvest is in September, and even though the squirrels always destroy a portion of the crop, taking one tiny triangular bite in each fruit and leaving it to rot, I have more tomatoes than I can use from September 1st until a hard frost kills all the plants in late October. (Early November if I cover the pants.) The only year I didn't get any tomatoes was the year I didn't get my frames up in time, the vines sprawled all over the ground, and a disease (which was apparently pretty widespread that year) turned all the fruit brown, hard, and lumpy.

I'm thinking about trying strawberries next season. I'd like to grow enough to eat fresh during the season, so I want a variety that will produce as long as possible in my area. I live in Wisconsin, just outside Milwaukee, and my main pests are the squirrels I mentioned, and birds that like to eat newly-planted seeds. So what would it take to have such a harvest without pests getting most of it? How much work would it be? If I fall behind, will it kill my plants, or end the harvest for that season?
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Re: Should the Lazy Gardener Attempt Strawberries?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 8/22/2015, 10:03 pm

I grew strawberries in a regular garden, and it was everbearing variety. (vs June-bearing). I did it 2 years, and plowed the whole mess under due to the weed invasion into the strawberry bed making fruit basically non-existent. Too many weeds/grass/grass/grass ... just the whole thing got overwhelmed with grass.

That said, doing them in SFG might be fun! No (real) weed threat, and easy access (the traditional garden is back-breaking at BEST). There is nothing like a tiny little strawberry from the garden, packed with 5 times as much flavor in it's little awesome package than store bought berries! thinking
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Re: Should the Lazy Gardener Attempt Strawberries?

Post  yolos on 8/22/2015, 10:32 pm

I had a 4 x 8 bed dedicated to strawberries.  The first year I harvested a lot of strawberries.  The second year I did not harvest any strawberries.  The third year I let all the strawberries die.  Something took a bite out of every strawberry. I think it was chipmunks, but maybe it was lizards, or maybe it was birds.   If you have a problem with squirrels, you had better be prepared to provide some kind of covering or the squirrels will get them before you get a chance to harvest anything.  At least that is my experience.
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Re: Should the Lazy Gardener Attempt Strawberries?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/23/2015, 4:21 am

A hoop house is very easy to make out of PVC even for me, and I'm near completely hopeless when it comes to building anything. Just stick some iron rebar into the soil every 3 feet or so, to a good one-foot depth, and get some dirt-cheap PVC pipes. Stick one end of the PVC pipe into the ground and bend it over to the other side of your bed to get a rough idea how much height and length you need. Cut the PVC pipe with any saw, or a purpose-made tool, and jam it onto an iron rebar on the other side of the bed. Then drape some shade cloth or other cover over the strawberries and secure the cloth to the half-hoops of PVC tubing you just created with dollar-store cheapo clips. Leave extra cloth along the bottom of the bed, and hold it down with specialty spikes or anything heavy, like pieces of wood or metal tubing, etc.

Then you have a protected bed and unless you get an adventurous predator who rips through your cloth, you'll be safe from pests all season.

Depending on the cloth you pick, you also have the ability to moderate sun/heat exposure, useful both in hot and cold seasons.
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Re: Should the Lazy Gardener Attempt Strawberries?

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/23/2015, 8:20 am

YES! Strawberries are crazy easy, at least in my neck of the woods. I have them in an old school inground SFG - which means there are wood planks along four sides of the bed of earth mixed with lots of compost and whatever else I feel like throwing in there. I planted two plants that I picked up on a whim from Home Depot 4 years ago. They reproduce like crazy and now the whole bed is full. I also use the back to Eden method which means letting them become covered with some type of mulch. In my area they are covered with fall leaves and pine needles from the trees above. In the spring the strong ones come up through the mulch and produce berries. I don't do much to them ever except water, rarely, and mow down or give away escapees..

If I ever do them over I will put them in a long thinner bed, probably a raised 8 by 2.

CC.
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