Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Great Strawberry Expansion ... and our first harvest

Three years ago when we moved into our current house and first planted a garden, I really wanted to try planting strawberries. So we bought a pack of four small strawberries plants along with our garden veggies and planted them in a corner of our new garden. They didn't do well for a variety of reasons. A large neighborhood bunny population. A fence that didn't keep out said bunny population. A couple of good storms. And so on, and so forth.

The old strawberry pots, empty so far this year. That little area is being overrun
by the raspberry bush.
The next year, two years ago, I wasn't sure if we should try growing strawberries again. But then I remembered that we had two very large pots that were sitting unused in the yard, and I figured, why not? At least the pots would keep them off the ground and safe from the bunnies. So we moved the pots next to the garden and planted four more strawberry plants.

The plants did pretty well in the pots, although we didn't get many berries that year. They did produce off-shoots, or runners, that grew over the edge of the pots and planted themselves in the corner of the garden. "Hey, look at that," we said. "The strawberries are growing outside of the pots." We didn't think much more of it.

The "Mary Berry Patch." All of the plants with the rounded leaves are
strawberries. The raspberry bush is in the back along the fence. The taller
plant with long leaves in the lower left corner is milkweed, which we leave
for the monarch butterflies whenever possible.
Until the next spring, which was last year. The strawberries didn't come up again in the pots, which really didn't surprise us. We were surprised, though, that the strawberry plants reappeared in the garden. And not just in the little space where they'd planted themselves the year before. They'd spread and basically taken over the whole corner of the garden.

We affectionately dubbed that corner our "Mary Berry Patch" (fans of The British Baking Show will appreciate that). The plants did well in the garden, and we even got a few strawberries here and there.

 Fast forward to this spring when green things were finally starting to poke out of the  unfrozen ground. Lo and behold the strawberries have continued to grow along the outer edge to almost the
middle of the garden. The Great Strawberry Expansion.

Creeping Charlie and dandelions keep popping up in the middle of the
strawberries, and it's tricky to pull the weeds and not the berries.
Silly strawberries. They had runners trying to grow even farther along the edge of the garden, but we redirected them to head back the other direction since we do want to grow a few more things than just strawberries in the garden. We did consider digging up some of the strawberry plants from the end and moving them back to the corner, but honestly with all of the other weeding and planting to do, that was an extra chore that I didn't feel the need to tackle.

Our first garden harvest
The berries are certainly flourishing, though. We noticed early on that the plants were full of flowers. And then there were lots of baby strawberries, more than I remember seeing in previous years.

I waited (maybe not so patiently) until some of the berries were nice and red and finally picked these four -- our first harvest (before the rest of the garden was even planted). Truth be told, they probably could have used another day or maybe two to ripen, but I was afraid that if I waited too long, the squirrels or birds would find them first. And they have a terrible tendency to pick something, take one bite and then just leave the rest sitting on the ground. (I mean if you're going to take my food, have the courtesy to eat all of it. Or at least don't leave it right out in the open. Seriously.)

We've picked several more berries in the last few days, and we even have the rest of the garden planted. I'll be back soon with more garden photos -- and cards, too! Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Yay for strawberries (they look great!) and yay for getting them before the rabbits, squirrels, birds or any other wildlife - that is a constant battle, isn't it? I've had some luck spreading blood meal around the perimeter of garden areas to discourage rabbits, but, has to be re-done after rain and still isn't a perfect answer. Why can't they eat some of the dandelions? :-)

  2. I am loving your vege garden Andrea! And yes I know who Mary Berry is, having watched her many times on tv! Seeing as it is Winter here, there isn't much I can do with my vege garden yet. I throw the vege and fruit scraps into the plot where I intend to grow tomatoes and a choko plant come Spring. I just dig it over every so often and pile on more compost. The ground os too cold to plant anything yet, so I must wait! I also have Aster seeds to plant, some of which I have already planted a couple of months ago just to see if they would grow. They have and I have LOTS of mini Aster seedlings! I am hoping they last through the next couple of Winter months. I keep them in a big pot in a sheltered spot on my terrace.
    Many years ago I had a dog who would rush ahead of us into the garden and help himself to the ripe strawberries! Good luck with all the vege plants..and those naughty bunnies and squirrels!
    Sunshine, New Zealand