I have started doing regular walkabouts through the property checking for branches that are ready to force for indoor blooming. The walk also gives me a look-see as to what is going on in some of the raised beds. I didn't find any forsythia branches that were ready.
What I did find was the strawberry bed was in disarray. It is a raised bed protected with a series of PVC hoops covered with bird netting. The netting is secured with garden slips I ordered from Territorial years ago.
The four legged afternoon regulars had managed to nudge the bird netting high enough to investigate what was in the bed. There must have been a touch of green to entice them or maybe they just felt devilish.
The plants had been pulled out and appeared to be in an unsalvageable condition.. Rather than go through a long and time consuming 911 rescue process, I blessed them, thanked them for several years of production and added them to the compost bin.
In the past I have grown Quinault, an everbearing plant with satisfactory production but I want to try another variety this year. I have also grown Tristar and Tribute. I would like to find either Albion, a high sugar content berry which has been given the label of a perfect dessert berry, or Hecker which is rated for USDA zone 3. Most strawberries are rated for zone 4, which is in our zone range.
One of the first items on the spring list will be to renovate the strawberry bed. I mulched with pine needles. They will need cleaning out and the soil turned over with some amendments added. Then I will work on a more secure system of exclusion. I probably just need to add more clips which I have. Guess I had just trusted the deer too much. Wasn't that a joke!
In trying to find a bare root source for Hecker I found some fun facts on strawberries on the Michigan Extension site.
Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside of the fruit.
Eight strawberries provide 140% of the daily recommended vitamin C for kids.
There are only 45-55 calories per l cup of berries depending on variety. The caloric damage must come when you add whipped cream or ice cream--or how about dipped in dark chocolate.
Native Americans ate strawberries fresh or baked in cornbread.
Strawberries have high levels of nitrate. This increases oxygen and blood flow to the muscles. Eating strawberries before exercising is shown to provide greater endurance and also helps to burn more calories.
I find seed starting the most fascinating aspect of gardening so, of course, I had to look up the process for strawberries in my Seed Starting Handbook by Nancy Bubel. The seed germinating temperature is very critical--between 60-65 degrees F. At temperatures over 70 degrees no germination takes place. They need light to germinate so seeds are barely pressed into the soil and then the seeding tray covered in clear plastic. Germination will take about 4 weeks.
I will continue on my quest to find the bare rooted plants.
Check out Gardening: Get Good at It "Companion Plant Combos" segment Tuesday March 3 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am