Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Berry Change Of Plans

I had ordered our first ever strawberry plants from Nourse Farms a few weeks ago indicating the week of March 26th for our delivery.  I decided on Seascape, a day neutral that sounded like it was a pretty "climate flexible" variety.

I knew I was in trouble 2 weekends ago when I'd hoped to get the new area dug up and composted.  We'd spent so much time working on the other beds that nothing had been prepared for the strawberries that were due to arrive.  With SM in Vegas and a full work week for me I became a bit concerned about where to plant these suckers.   

No biggie.  We switch to plan B.  I figured I've got lots of existing beds to choose from.  When I got the box from Nourse last Wednesday, I opened them up.  They looked good to me.  I gave the roots a squirt and stuck them back in the fridge until I could get to them over the weekend. 

Saturday arrived with several hours of light rain showers.  Perfect!  I headed into work for a few hours with post-ops and got home about noon with the clouds breaking up and the sun peaking through.

I pulled out the box and and read the enclosed booklet.  Uh oh!  It seems I didn't do my homework.  Reading the fine print I see...Don't plant where tomatoes, potatoes and peppers have been.  (I guess there are certain pathogens in the soil that can damage the new plants.)

That's almost everywhere in my "in ground" double dug beds.  That only leaves the raised beds to put the berries in.  (Sigh.)  I really didn't want to put the berries in the raised beds because I was afraid the roots would get too hot during the Summer.  No help for it I guess.

Reading further, I see that you need to plant the roots straight down, no sideways planting or bunching (folding over) of the roots.  They recommend that you DON'T cut the roots.  Alrighty then.



I headed out to plant and pulled one of the starts out.  Crikey!  The root system on this sucker was from the tip of my fingers to my wrist.  Easily 7-8" long.  (Yes, I have mutant alien hands.  All long and skinny.)

Well, THAT works well for the raised beds.  All that nice compost and leaf mold allows for easy digging.  I would never have been able to work these into the ground and get the roots planted correctly in our clay soil.

Planting was easy enough although I did have to spread them out in 3 different beds.  I had 25 plants to put in and "By Golly" I wasn't about to loose any.  Now some of these berries are in with cucumber, squash and onions as bed partners.  A quick Internet search showed that those companions are OK.

I'm starting to feel a bit better about the raised beds for the berry plants.  They tend to be invasive anyway so it'll be easier to control them.  I also recall Leigh over at 5 Acres and a Dream having all kinds of problems with wire grass invading her strawberry beds.  I've got really aggressive Bermuda grass here in my yard.  

The raised beds are looking better and better.  Anything to make my life easier is welcome indeed.  Maybe planting the berries in the raised beds will be a blessing in disguise.  If the roots can take the heat.  We'll see.

5 comments:

  1. You can also grow them in pots. Sounds like you've come up with a great solution!

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  2. Nourse has THE BEST plants. I've ordered from them several times and have never lost a single plant. Happy Eating!

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  3. Interesting instructions. I planted mine and didn't bother with keeping roots down and they're doing just fine. Seascape is good variety but not very large and it's good for snacking and they'll benefit from raised bed as they get sweeter if they stay in warm soil so no fear of the overheating.

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  4. Thanks for the heads up on the Seascape Jenny...I didn't know any of that. I saw that it did well through zone 9 and thought that it ought to survive our hot summers here. Next year I'll likely plant a June bearing variety like Earliglow.

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  5. I've gotten instructions from berry companies to make a mound in the soil and "spread" the roots out in a fan shape over the mound. Also that you should trim the roots to an even length before planting. Also to plant with roots straight up and down as you did. Conflicting directions? You bet!

    I always worry about planting strawberries in my raised beds because of fear of the roots getting too cold in the winter. (Is there no justice in this world?)

    Seems as though there may be more than one way to skin a cat. Ooops, I mean plant a strawberry plant.

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