Spring Strawberries (Recovery)
Happy First Day of Spring. No better way to celebrate than with the world's most delicious strawberry that can be grown in Florida: The Sweet Charlie Variety. Unfortunately this variety, named for the late father of the Florida Strawberry Program, Dr. Charlie Howard, is getting very difficult to find. The reasons are threefold: less disease resistances, somewhat lower yields under optimum conditions vs. current cultivars, and inability to palletize well.
Sweet Charlie plump up and get too soft to ship mainly due to a brix (+/- sugar) off the charts, and they are an orange, not too red color, and are not red all the way through (most varieties do not have the red all the way through trait). They split easily in rain. This is because the osmotic pressure inside from the mobile flavors and sugars is just to much for the skin to hold back when the berry is exposed to purified (rain) with nothing dissolved in it. The sugars literally knock the skin down running out when this happens because they can't hold their flavor on the juiciest ones. But they are the standard of flavor, the sweetness of yesteryear that all seek to reach but none do so far .... 17 g is a reasonable target average size, though "average" means some should be smaller and some bigger.
I had big plans to grow these for Mom who was in her twilight and immobile, all dependent on the liquid diet I could feed her ... and eating was a bright point in her day, with the strawberry plants growing out her window as scenery... I could not bear her eating the pesticide laden conventional, poor tasting strawberries, and the costly "organic" big lie - both organic and conventional strawberries have an exemption for the toxic and severely ozone depleting fumigant methyl bromide. To grow our own, I decided to attempt what I think might be probably the furthest north, Atlantic State outdoor, unprotected strawberry growing trial.
Anyway, I lost my Mom 2 hours after I picked her the first two strawberries for including in an evening dessert, which she never tasted, and never assembled the pieces of the large, custom design DIY system after the nursery DWC setup in my grief.
I kept the 42 plants going for a month without a nutrient change, but then left them in the nursery and didn't come back for over two weeks just as they were peaking with flowers like white snow on top. Then I got back, had the flu and felt crappy and didn't even look at the plants or boost them for another 2.5 weeks, through many days of straight rain which is murder on strawberries anywhere.
Not a single pH adjustment and rotten leaves, berries and mold everywhere and very sick plants. So a week ago, Mom's spirit was reborn in the berries for me and I went to work cleaning them and made up a new batch of ionic earth mineral water --regular soluble salts and chelates in solution ;-) that is-- from scratch, change and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Mostly rubbed with bleach. And then I removed over 100 strawberries in rotted and dried condition, stunted from running out of nutrition etc., such a sad sight.
It worked!!!!!! Just a week later and I'm getting 15 gram strawberries already; just a few, but hey most without mold and, terrible deficient in sunlight, and spaced at an inch apart blocking each other and leaving nowhere for the berries to hang and air out. Here's what they look like up close, note some are contorted, that’s because the plants froze and all the pollinators were killed and I did nothing, but generally they look like the spirit of life has returned with the spring!
I am amazed at the abuse these plants took and impressed how nature can come back. The home brew fertilizer only requires two or three pH adjustments in 6 weeks now that I've perfected the procedure, which is complete res change after 6 weeks, and a relatively small direct powder addition of fertilizer to boost at week 4 to keep the correct nutrient ratios.
♥ for Mom ♥
and all those Moms who have lovingly prepared fruits and veggies for you!
This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Thu, Mar 20, 14 at 17:55