by by Gary Pendleton
Satisfaction: Thy Name is Homegrown Strawberries
When we moved to North Beach on Memorial Day weekend in 1997, we left behind our strawberry patch.
It was planted with Tri Star strawberry plants, which are ever-bearers, meaning they produce fruit from late May to September. The typical plant is a June bearer, producing one bumper crop — and that’s all.
Adding to our homesickness, we were missing our daily summer-time ration of fresh, flavorful strawberries. And it was too late in the year to put in a patch of plants at our new home. So we had to wait.
The following winter when I received my seed and plant catalogues in the mail, I found a source for Tri Stars. I ordered them in winter for spring delivery.
April came, and the nursery sent me asparagus. I called the 800 number and was promised my berries; for my trouble, I got to keep the asparagus. A few days later, a second package arrived containing more asparagus.
My Tri Star berries finally did arrive. I donated the asparagus to the South County Community Farm and planted the berries in a raised bed.
Over the years I’ve learned a few things about how to take care of the plants and increase production. At the end of the growing season, before winter sets in, I cut back the leaves and stems and mulch heavily with straw. In spring, it’s a good idea to fertilize with about an inch of compost.
That patch produced berries for five years, before we replaced it with new plants about three springs ago. They produce just about enough for two — plus an unknown number of slugs. Because you can’t get too much of a good thing, we added an additional patch of 25 plants this spring. They will begin to pay off for us by mid-summer, and we hope for a heavy crop this fall.