Tuesday, May 6, 2014


It turns out that we aren't too bad at growing berries although the vegetables leave a lot to be desired.

When we moved to this house the area that these strawberries are in now was completely covered with English Ivy.

Ivy is something that you never completely eradicate you just sort of keep it in check. The same goes for monkey grass.

In order to supplant ivy with strawberries we had to do a lot of work. We sheet mulched the ivy with cardboard and newspaper first. Then I laid on about 4 inches of compost and then straw over that. After that we covered the straw with wood chip mulch.

The summer of 2012 I planted strawberries into the mulch, last year there wasn't any real production to speak of, but by the fall the strawberries had gained a good foothold and they were beginning to dominate the area.

The patch is against an eastern facing wall, so they get sunlight in the morning and then it goes away around lunchtime. I've never watered them after about a month of putting them in. There is a drip hose there if needed, but the mulch and compost over the old ivy seems to retain lots of moisture.

I've bought a lot of strawberries at the grocery store, I like them. Sometimes you get some decent ones, flavor wise, but mostly they are never really ripe. I don't water, fertilize or spray pesticides on these berries. That's extra work anyway.

None of them are perfect and lot are sort of deformed a little and some of them the ants eat. So I am positive at this point the strawberries at the grocery store are by necessity sprayed with chemicals and probably over watered. They are all fat, really firm because they aren't ripe and usually not sweet at all. And imagine that there are acres upon acres of just one crop and they all end up perfectly shaped?

I don't think so. And it's hard to imagine the labor to harvest them. They aren't easy to see until you bend down and start moving the leaves, in other words it's labor intensive to harvest them.

But for us it's fun to pick them, they're six feet from the back door. If they aren't ripe today we'll wait until tomorrow. No worries.

I guess you'd call it free food and it's easy to think of it that way, but then I remember loading all of that mulch and compost by hand and unloading it and carting it to the yard and dispersing  it and sheet mulching etc, etc. So no, it isn't free, but at this point we are set to get much more out from what we put in. And, on their own, the strawberries are spreading. Without any help from us, food is multiplying.

That's a nice concept!

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