We can hardly drive out of our neighborhood without being completely hit smack in the face with Spring. Everything is blooming! It's the perfect time to start planting strawberries for summer shortcakes.
But before we get to bite into those juicy little morsels of sweet goodness, we need to do a some prep work. First things first... gotta get the flower bed ready.
To keep the plants safe from furry pests and our property pet, Hamilton the Pig, I put a small fence around the flower bed. It took a couple of hours, but in the long run, it will save us a lot of heartache.
Then I went about amending the dirt with an organic compost from E.B. Stone. Making your own compost, while an honorable intention, can be a big mess. It attracts bugs and critters, which isn't such a big deal if you live on half an acre or more. Even then, it's a lot more work than you think. For the typical backyard gardener in standard suburban digs, it's a lot more practical to go with a bag of composted green waste that's all ready to go. E.B. Stone's Organic Compost is great for vegetable gardens and flower beds. It's also good for trees and shrubs, and even on lawns.
Strawberries need to be planted in about four inches of soil. Since our flower bed was a little shallow, I built up a couple of mounds of amended soil.
Strawberry plants need to be spaced about 14 to 18 inches apart. To make sure I didn't put them too close to each other, I marked them off with some leftover brick bits that I found in a shed. Make sure that each spot gets some sun. I planted the first ones too far into the shade and needed to move them later.
I dug two rows of six holes (one row for each variety, Eversweet and Chandler) and placed one plant in each. Before burying the roots, I popped a teaspoon of E.B. Stone Sure Start Fertilizer into each hole. Sure Start is a blend of natural organic ingredients formulated to help newly transplanted plants develop strong roots and sturdy growth. I always worry about fertilizers burning my plants, but this is a gentle formula that's safe to use with even the tenderest of plants.
NOTE: When burying the roots, you have to make sure not to bury the crown of the strawberry plant. The crown is the base of the plant. It's very important to leave some of the plant (what you might think is the root) above the soil. If you cover the crown, the plant will eventually rot and will die. Nervous about burying the crown? Just buy a starter pack of berries and use the soil in the each plant as your guide.
Now, strawberry plants LOVE moisture, so you can either lay down a mulch that will keep the soil moist, or you can water the plants daily. I like the feeling of zen I get when I'm watering my plants, so I prefer to break out the water wand and do it by hand.
Now, we just have to wait for the blooms to turn to berries!