Sometimes – you just have to admit that things didn’t work out and try again! Such was the case with our old strawberry bed planting.

We love strawberries, and use them in so many of our recipes (you can see some of our favorite at the end of the article). So growing our own is big priority, and our old patch just wasn’t quite working out the way we had hoped!

Strawberry Honey Jam - One of our favorites to make from our home grown strawberries!
Strawberry Honey Jam – One of our favorites to make from our home-grown strawberries!

We planted our strawberries a few years back in the area of our first chicken coop. We figured the ground would be fertile, and that by putting them in a shaped bed instead of rows – it would look neat and be fairly easy to maintain. We also opted not to use a fabric or plastic underneath for weed control, thinking we could mulch around plants with the same success in our raised row garden. In short – BAD IDEA!

In theory – the plan was excellent for the fertility.  Our plants thrived – and so did the weeds coming through them.

Our strawberries grew well - but so did the weeds without any fabric down
Our strawberries grew well – but so did the weeds without any fabric down

Without any plastic down underneath – it became nearly impossible to maintain – and planting in a bed space and not rows made them harder to pick as well.

We learned a valuable lesson – use landscape fabric or plastic for weed control – and plant in rows!

The New Strawberry Patch…

Our new strawberry patch is going into our old long rows from last year that were right outside of the main garden space.

To help build up the soil - we planted a cover crop last fall where our new strawberry rows will go
To help build up the soil – we planted a cover crop last fall where our new strawberry rows will go

We planted a heavy cover crop of winter rye last fall to build in some extra nutrients to the soil, and with the soil hopefully drying out this week – we will turn it over and plant.

Our new patch will consist of two raised rows that are 40′ long x 18″ wide – with a 30″ walking space between them for easy picking.  We will use red plastic on one row, and black landscape fabric on the other row to see which works better.  They will both of course stop the weeds – but much like the tomatoes we talked about last week, the red plastic is supposed to help with yields from the reflection and warming of the soil.  We thought it would be a good time to see if there is a difference.

Planting the Strawberries…

Here in Ohio, early spring is the best time to plant as long as soil is not too wet. Since we will be using transplants from our old strawberry beds – this year’s crop will be very light – but it should make for excellent yields over the course of the next 3 to 4 years – and much easier to maintain!

We will take transplants from the old patch to create the new rows
We will take transplants from the old patch to create the new rows

Whether buying new plants or transplanting starts – the process is virtually the same.

All strawberry plants have roots, a crown, and leaves. The crown is the short stem area between the roots and leaves.

Set in the plants so that the upper portion of the crown is just slightly above the level of the ground. The crown is the portion that is directly above the root area, and below the first set of leaves.  As you plant, make sure you press in the soil gently around the roots to prevent them from heaving up until they are established.

We are spacing our plants 12″ apart to keep them more compact – although you can space them up to 24″ if you like. For more detailed information on planting, you can check out our earlier article : How To Grow Strawberries.

Each strawberry plant will produce about 3/4 to a full quart of fruit when mature – and the new beds should keep us in more than enough strawberries for jam, jellies, fresh eating, and my personal favorite – strawberry pie!

Here are some of our favorite strawberry recipes:

Fresh strawberry salsa is perfect over grilled chicken!
Fresh strawberry salsa is perfect over grilled chicken!

Strawberry-Honey Jam Recipe

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate Recipe

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe

Strawberry Salsa Recipe

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Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary!

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