Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Strawberry Plants and Raised Beds.

I had to thin out my strawberry bed (3 foot by 6 foot) because Dan and I decided to move our original raised beds. I made those raised beds about 4 years ago (the first and last time I ever used an electric drill), and we moved the beds with us every time we moved. I am surprised that they are still holding up considering my poor nailing skill. This spring we were not moving to a new place,  but wanted to adjust where they were sitting, and then ended up moving all four original beds. When you move a raised bed, you need to move the frame, pack up the plants and set them aside, move the dirt, and put all the plants back (that is, if you can fit them back). It ain't a joke. I am just glad that we didn't have to move the newer raised beds (Dan made me four raised beds last spring. These are 4 by 6). I am a huge fan of raised beds. It is the easiest way to start your organic garden with a good soil and you don't need to worry about weeding. You can start your garden right on top of a lawn too! If you are interested, here is one way to do it:
  • At a home improvement store, buy untreated, 12 by 2 inch lumber. We bough 10 feet long ones and asked the staff at the store to cut them into 6 feet and 4 feet pieces. You also need some brackets and wood screws.
  • Or you can visit one of the gardening websites (such as Gardener's) and order assembly-ready raised beds. 
  • Find a nice sunny spot in your garden if you are growing lots of vegetables and/or sun-loving flowers. Find partial shade or shade spot if you are planting partial shade or shade perennial garden. Make sure your garden hose can reach the spot in case you have to water in high summer.
  • Assemble the beds and place them at the perfect spot.
  • Here is the fun part. You would need some newspapers, compost, and top soil, preferably all organic kinds. You might need some peat moss and sand depending on what kind of compost/soil/manure you get. For example, I got a composted horse manure from Tara's family farm and it was very silty and dense. I added in lots of peat moss and sand to improve the texture. If you are building 6 by 4 by 1 beds like we did, you need 24 cubic feet of materials to fill it up. Trust me on this - you want to build the best yummy soil you can afford. Why do I describe a soil as 'yummy'? It's because your plants will need all the nutrients from the soil to grow. If you want to grow yummy vegetables, build yummy soil. And sorry - I don't think those chemically enriched soils are yummy.
  • Line inside your raised bed frame with news papers. Patricia Lanza, the author of Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces recommends that you wet the newspapers first so that they stay put. I find it as easy to use dry news papers. (Your choice, wet news papers  or dry news papers). Make sure there are plenty of overlap between the newspapers and that you completely cover inside of your raised bed frame with the news papers. The layer of news papers keep the weeds (or unwanted grass) out of the way and they gradually compost by the time all the weeds underneath are dead. 
  • Carefully fill up the bed so that you don't disturb the layer of the news papers. Depending on what you got, you can layer each kind alternatively ending with top soil on the top (sooner or later earth worms will mix them all up) or just mix the ingredients as you add them in. I find that the raised beds are very forgiving as long as the soil inside has good texture and good nutrients as a whole. 
  • Water the raised beds throughly before you transplant or sow. Watch your plants grow!

Strawberries from my garden. May 30, 2008
I wanted to talk about strawberries and then got carried away with raised beds. Ahem. Back to the strawberries. I started with a few strawberry plants about five years ago, and lost some and gave away some every time I moved, and  still had too many strawberry plants this spring!! They are taking up 3 raised beds now. I need to get rid of at least 24 plants. It's not that strawberries are not one of my favorites. I have too many favorites and they all need a space. 
Some of the strawberry plants are getting ready to bloom. I can see the flower buds forming at the center of plants. I will be very happy to give these plants away to the people who want to try out strawberries. They are super easy to grow! I hardly do anything with them other than cage them up when strawberries start to ripe, and eat them when they are saturated with flavors. Our neighbor Dr. Switzer can testify for the superb sweetness of the strawberry fruits that these plants produce. Please leave a comment if and how many you want the strawberry plants. First come, first served. 

1 comment:

smoo said...

Thanks so much for the strawberry plants!