Friday, July 20, 2012


Over two months ago, I started this post about strawberries.  I blame my lack of blogging over the last two months on this unfinished post.  For some reason, in my mind, I couldn't appropriately blog about much else until I finished this strawberry post.  For example, there's a plum post coming (if only in my head).  But everyone knows one cannot post about plums until one posts about strawberries.  Right?  Well, maybe.  So here goes:

Last year I purchased and planted some everbearing strawberry plants.  I could have gone with a well-favored named variety, but my frugal nature won out.  You see, these plants, named only "everbearing strawberries", were about a dollar cheaper per pot than the named berries.  What's a dollar (or five in my case, as I bought five pots)?  Not much in the grad scheme of the garden, until I noticed the (cheap) pots actually contained two plants per pot.  There went my plan to buy the "good" plants.  These would do, especially since I had no idea whether strawberries would "do" in my yard at all. 

Yes, I did know strawberries run, and that I would have been just fine buying only five of those other plants because they would have muliplied enough to fill the bed by this second year.  But at that particular moment I wanted the instant gratification of berries the same year.

In went the plants, next to the weeping maple and just downhill from the dwarf blueberries.  They made a few berries last year (eaten by squirrels, birds and voles), and put out lots of runners, to try to take over those blueberries.  I got zero berries for myself, but spent lots of effort reigning in the spread of the berries.

On to 2012.  This spring I made sure the plants weren't crowding each other out, then let them do their thing.  They flowered in early spring and made little green fruits: 

And then the berries started to ripen:

I was not about to let all the critters get to my berries before me this year.  Since there were only a few berries ripening at this point, and I didn't yet have a fencing scheme planned, I tried protecting just the few berries I had:

Yes, that's a leg of hosiery wrapped around the berry cluster.  It worked well, allowing the berries to ripen in safety.

Those were some tasty berries!

There were several problems with this method, however.  First, it would be very labor intensive to put every ripening berry into a stocking-guard.  Second, I found that while the berries were in the stocking I couldn't really tell if they were ripe.  So I had to pull them out to take a look, then put them back in.  I was very concerned about bruising the fruit in the process.

So I got out the bird netting and draped it over the berries, securing it to the ground around the edges with a combination of landscape staples and bricks.  My first attempt was a failure, as I found the next set of ripe berries munched away before I got to them.

I found the hole in my barrier and staked it closed.  Success!  Soon I was eating berries for breakfast every day.

(A note about 'everbearing' strawberries:  while they do continue to bear fruit throughout the summer, they still produce a flush of berries in the spring, just as the june-bearing plants do.  Since my netting scheme made weeding nearly impossible, I removed the netting after the major crop was finished. I'll let the critters eat the later fruits.)


  1. They look yummy. I planted a variety called 'Sequoia' a couple of years ago, because they are supposed to have good flavor. I've only eaten a few. I should have known why they are called straw berries. Straw would have kept them off the soil! I think I will just buy at the farmers' markets!

  2. Those are great looking strawberries. We use the netting too. It really helps. A friends says he puts boards under the clumps of strawberries to keep them off the ground from insects which I've had some trouble with too. Glad you got to enjoy them this year.

  3. I am glad to see that the nets work for you. Maybe for me next year. I have no strawberries on my plats this year, at least red ones (but lots of catbirds and squirrels :-)