Category Archives: Perennials

Planting Strawberries

Strawberry Plant

Strawberry Plant

The first week of May this year, we brought home some strawberry plants to join us by the patio. I haven’t grown strawberries before, but I’m excited to see how it goes.

These plants weren’t just an impulse buy. To prepare for our new arrivals:
* I prepared the bed and enriched the soil last year. See Clearing the Way for Strawberries by the Patio.
* I read about strawberries in a number of books. One recent book was: The Backyard Berry Book.
* I waited for spring to come. Although the books indicated that I could have planted sooner, it didn’t feel right until May came.

I decided to plant two varieties of strawberries: June-bearing and everbearing. I am hoping that the June-bearing crop (Allstar) allows us to have a nice harvest all at once, while the everbearing fruits (Ozark Beauty) will be fun for the kids to snack on when we’re playing outside. Since this is the first year, I’ll need to remove the flower buds from the June-bearing strawberries to encourage the roots to be established well. For the everbearing strawberries, I read that I could remove the flower buds until July 1st and then allow the plants to flower and produce fruit after that.

Here are some other strawberry growing tips that I’ve read:
* When planting the new strawberry plants, choose a cool, cloudy day.
* Planting depth is important for the strawberry’s crown. Not too deep, not too high.
* Add a light mulch, such as straw.
* Make sure the plants get one inch of water per week. If the rain isn’t coming, watering in the morning is best.
* Keep the beds well weeded.
* After harvest is finished for June-bearing plants, mow off the foliage (don’t damage the crown) to prevent leaf diseases and encourage strong plant growth.
* Berries appear ripe one month after blossoms have started to appear.
* Pick strawberries with the stems and caps on and place them in a shallow container (3-4 layers deep). Morning is the best time to pick strawberries.
* Refrigerate strawberries as soon as possible after picking and don’t wash them or remove the caps until use.
* Strawberries are ok for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
* If there are moldy or rotted strawberries, dispose of them away from the strawberry plants.

Patio bed after planting strawberries

Patio bed after planting strawberries

I am hopeful that we will have a nice crop of strawberries next year.

Photos from the People’s Garden

FPL People's Garden SignLast Saturday, after attending the Fitchburg Fields Garden Fair, I stopped over at the People’s Food Forest Garden next to Forest Products Laboratory for their work day. This garden is an effort that is part of the USDA People’s Garden Initiative. According to the fact sheet, “this unique garden was designed to provide a sampling of the USDA’s efforts to teach others how to nurture, maintain, and protect a healthy landscape.”

USDA People's Food Forest Garden

USDA People’s Food Forest Garden

I enjoyed seeing permaculture practices up close. Being on a hillside, erosion and runoff were problems prior to the addition of swales and berms that slow and absorb rainwater. The garden is centered around a hawthorn and three crabapple trees, with additional plantings to create guilds that support these trees. There are fruiting plants such as currants, highbush cranberries, elderberries, bush cherries, and strawberries. Yarrow and bergamot attract beneficial insects. There are nitrogen-fixing plants like lupines, and nutrient accumulators like comfrey. Chives and daylilies along an edge help keep back the grass and weeds.

Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie

During Saturday’s work day, I helped pull up Creeping Charlie along the edge of the garden. Other volunteers spread new mulch, investigated the swales, and pruned bushes and trees. The day was windy with some brief sprinkles and hail, but it was relaxing and enjoyable, sitting under a crabapple tree with wonderful plant smells in the air, focused on that Creeping Charlie with little purple flowers.

On Thursday evening, the Madison Area Permaculture Guild toured the gardens for our monthly meeting. Below are some photos I took of the plants.

Hawthorn tree

Hawthorn tree


Crabapple tree with an edible apple graft

Crabapple tree with an edible apple graft


Comfrey

Comfrey


Yarrow

Yarrow


Lupine

Lupine


Bayberry

Bayberry


Virginia Blue Bells

Virginia Blue Bells


Lavender

Lavender


Prairie Indigo

Prairie Indigo


Currant

Currant


Clove Currant

Clove Currant


Elderberry/Sambucus

Elderberry/Sambucus


Bush Cherry

Bush Cherry


Strawberry

Strawberry


Daylilies

Daylilies


Chives

Chives

If you would like to visit the garden, it is located by the westside of the University of Wisconsin campus off Observatory Drive. The address is 1 Gifford Pinchot Drive and the garden sits between the Forest Products Laboratory building and their Research Demonstration House.