Strawberry Fields Forever!

Skybird - z5, Denver, ColoradoNovember 11, 2008

Ok! One more thread tonite! Ever since I moved in here IÂve wanted to put in some strawberry plants. Because of my VERY limited space, I couldnÂt possibly put in the "regular kind that spread by runners, so FINALLY, last February I winter sowed some Fragaria vesca seed. ThatÂs a little runnerless "alpine" strawberryÂsometimes called a French gourmet strawberry. They produce VERY small berries, but theyÂre VERY flavorful. When I planted them out, they were too small to even take a picture of. I was worried theyÂd get buried under the (small) bark mulch I have and die! But they did well, and hereÂs a couple pictures showing their progression over the summer. The first is a picture 4 or 5 weeks after they were planted.

The second was taken about 7 weeks after the first. I absolutely couldnÂt believe, considering how small they were when I put them out, that they were actually blooming and starting to produce berries!

And here, about a month after the second picture, is this yearÂs crop! I got three ripe strawberries! They were considerably bigger than I was expectingÂclose to an inch long, and they were VERY good!

Can hardly wait for next yearÂs cropÂwhich I expect to be considerably bigger! Ok! ItÂll never be a lot! The whole patch is just a couple square feet! But theyÂll be GOOD!

Any other fun strawberry stories around here?

Skybird

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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

I've got some starts growing in a kiddie pool right now. They are Gurneys Whopper strawberries. I've read mixed reviews about the flavor of the variety, but I got the starts for free about a month ago. I figure I have enough plants to purchase (or acquire) if I can get my flower plans together by spring, I'd try the free strawberries. If I don't like them, I can always replace them.

They're in a kiddie pool because I have to move some small lilac bushes before their permanent bed goes in.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 1:49AM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

I'm growing two varieties, but I only know the name of one. It's Quinault, and the downside is that the berries are borne too low and rest on the soil, allowing more bugs and slugs to bite into them. The other variety came from a neighbor, and it grows just a few inches taller and holds the berries off the ground, making for a better harvest and less pest damage. Both are everbearing, which really means a good harvest in June and scattered berries through the rest of the summer and early fall.

I need to fertilize them more, so they'll increase the production next year. I don't think I gave them anything this year.

One question -- someone told me that strawberry plants need to be replaced every three years or so, or they'll decline in production. Perhaps mine are declining now, because it's been three or four years. But here's my question -- when they spread by runners, can't you count those as new plants that should last another three years or so? Maybe I should selectively dig out all the plants that seem older and only leave the younger, smaller ones? Or can you divide their roots and create new plants?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 3:19PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Steve! Just have a minute right now, but yes and yes! My brother has a HUGE GARDEN--complete with LARGE strawberry patch--and he told me about the "decline" in production of strawberries after a few years. He just tills his under every couple years and starts over again. The cheapest way to do it, especially if you have varieties you know and like, would be to snip off runners and replant them where you want them. He starts completely fresh, but, as you mentioned, you could also just selectively remove the older plants as the runners root around them, but it seems it might be hard to keep up with how old the individual plants are.

Regarding keeping them clean and off the soil, he mulches all the way around and under them with clean strawÂnot hay. That makes it really easy to stay clean when youÂre picking them too. And straw, especially in our dry climate, would tend to dry out quickly and should discourage slugs.

Strawberry story! Many, manymanymanymany years ago when I was back visiting my family (same gardenÂmy brother lived with my parents till they died [long story!] so the HUGE garden is now his!) it was early summer and the strawberries were at their peak! My mother asked me to go out and pick strawberries for dinner, and that sounded like FUN to me! Unfortunately I had lived in Denver for a bunch of years by then, and HUMIDITY was a distant and foggy memory. I "skipped" happily out of the door with my bowl to fill with juicy, red berries, got to the strawberry patch, sat down on the nice clean straw and started picking. About a dozen berries into the "fun" I was dripping wet and TOTALLY miserable! How could picking strawberries be so very unpleasant! I had envisioned sitting out there, happily eating every other berry, but I quickly decided to fill the bowl and get inside where I could sit and drip dry as fast as possible. ThatÂs the last time I ever picked strawberries in Illinois! But I look forward to picking my Denver strawberriesÂeven if theyÂre small and there arenÂt that many of them!

Down with humidity,
Skybird

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 4:39PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

Skybird, I just realized why I don't have the same major distaste for humidity as others here... the 2 humid places I lived weren't so hot in the summer. I drove to VT this July, and it was so disgustingly hot and humid from Kansas to NY. I forgot about that for a moment. It was so hot coming back through KS, I didn't even stop at my MIL's house, about 10 min from the interstate! (she was coming to our house the next week, so it's not as bad as it sounds...) I will agree on the humidity issue...

When I was little, we used to go to a pick-your-own strawberery farm. I loved it. I ate every other one, just like you planned to. I want strawberries that taste like those again. That's why I'm growing some now!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 12:08AM
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laura_42(4b-5a Colorado)

Here's a strange story:

My Fort Laramie strawberries, the ones in the container that didn't produce hardly all summer, are now BLOOMING in my GARAGE and it's almost December!

My question is, what should I do now? Should I let them fade, or keep dragging their container outside when it's above freezing? I've already gotten a handful of yummy strawberries this week, and would love to have a few more before the snows set in...

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 12:08AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hey, I LOVE being able to go out into the garage and pick tomatoes! WhatÂs wrong with picking strawberries in the garage? Seriously, strawberries can take some COLD weather. IÂd move them out and just cover them with an old sheetÂor maybe something a little bit heavier than a sheet (NOT plastic) on the nites itÂs getting into the mid 20's or below, and just leave them outside till they quit producingÂor youÂve had your fill! If thereÂs somewhere against the house where you can keep them that theyÂll get sun during the day, that would be perfectÂstill cover them over niteÂbut it would be warmer than out in the open. I have one berry left on my little plants that I started this thread with, and I just looked under "its leaf" today to see what itÂs doing, and itÂs almost ripe! I havenÂt covered mine at all! If yours are outside, I doubt that theyÂll keep setting new fruit, but the ones that are already there should finish ripening. IÂve decided that, when itÂs all the way ripe, IÂm going to forego the pleasure of my last one and "plant" it in the ground in hopes some of the seeds may be viable and IÂll have a few more new plants next spring. But mine are the kind that donÂt produce runners, so the only way to get more is with seed!

Good luck with yoursÂand enjoy them while you can. Who cares if itÂs almost December. Just makes them even better!

Skybird

P.S. Go to the NOAA link below and click on Ft. Collins for a really good idea of what the overnite temps will be.

Here is a link that might be useful: NOAA - Denver/Boulder

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 1:23AM
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