Sunday, April 24, 2011

Strawberries for Stoddart

From its inception, the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden has had a strawberry patch. Last year, we added a second patch in a large raised bed along Cherry Street. Nothing brings kids to a Garden like the chance to pick a ripe, red strawberry. Some of our strawberry plants were donated last year by Oakland Nursery. Of course, if you know anything about strawberries, you know that they have lots of children themselves and will quadruple their number in a very short period.

Our abundance is now your gain because on our first work day of 2011, several of our gardeners (Treva, Rayna, Nykkel, Beth and Betty) thinned our strawberry patches, captured the ones that had spread into our flower beds and saved them just for you. I separated them out and planted 5-8 sets of crowns/roots into pots and these 26 pots have sat in my flower garden for the last two weeks. They've lived this long, so I think they are hardy enough to make it to your garden.
We have a mix of June-bearing and ever-bearing. I cannot tell them apart until the berries ripen (which will not be for at least another month). So, you will have to bear with me that I can't tell you what kind of berry you're getting.

A pot can be yours for the suggested donation of $3. The pots are just black and not the pretty strawberry pot pictured (although you can purchase this, too, for $10). I will warn you in advance that when I used to grow berries in my backyard, the mice usually got to them before I did. However, it also made a great place for my cats to lie in wait for the mice to venture from the garage so that they could pounce on them. . . .
Plants will be sold first come first served. Barb already got two and Cozy just ordered 6, so you do the math. . . . You can email me at to reserve your order. You can pick them up directly from me or after the 11:00 a.m. service at Christ Lutheran Church in Bexley on May 1, 2011.

Caring for strawberries is relatively easy. Here are some tips for the OSU Plant Line on strawberries:
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet -- Horticulture and Crop Science

Strawberries are well suited for planting in the home garden since they produce fruits very quickly, and require a relatively small amount of space. Each plant may produce up to one quart of fruit when grown in a matted row during the first fruiting year. Twenty-five plants will normally produce enough strawberries for an average sized family. Production usually declines during the second and third years of fruiting; therefore a new planting should be established after strawberry plants produce fruits for more than 3 to 4 years for maximum production.

Planting Site Requirements for Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants require full sun for the maximum yield and the best quality. They will grow and produce crops in several different types of soil. However, best results are obtained when the plants are grown in loose, fertile soils containing large quantities of organic matter. The soil should be slightly acidic, having a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. If the extent of soil acidity or fertility is unknown, it is suggested that the soil be sampled and tested.

The strawberry plant is sensitive to excessive soil moisture. Strawberries should be planted in raised beds or on ridges if drainage is a problem. Also, avoid planting strawberry plants in areas where potatoes, tomatoes, or sod were grown recently. Insect and disease problems may result in serious plant damage in such areas.
Planting and Spacing
Early spring is the best time to plant strawberry plants as long as soil is not too wet. Fall planting is not recommended because plants can be injured by soil heaving (alternate freezing and thawing). Strawberry plants have roots, a crown, and leaves (Figure 3). The crown is a short stem between the roots and leaves.

When planting, make sure to cover the roots and only half of the crown with soil. Make a trench deep enough to set the roots vertically. Do not bend roots horizontally.

June-bearing plants are spaced 12 to 24 inches apart. On close-spaced plants, runners are controlled by removing unwanted runners during the first season. In August, rows should be 18 to 24 inches wide with plants 6 to 8 inches apart in the row. Generally rows are 36 to 40 inches apart. A circular terrace can be used if one has limited space.

For day-neutral strawberries, plants are set 8 to 12 inches apart in the row with 30 to 36 inches between rows. Remove runners throughout the first season and remove flowers for the first 6 weeks after planting. Mulch the planting with 3 to 4 inches of straw or wood chips to conserve moisture. 

Additional information is available from the OSU Extension website.

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