It's June and right on cue those June bearing strawberries are ripening! Growing strawberries was a challenge for me here on the farm. I grew up in a town in Louisiana known as the " Strawberry Capitol Of The World". As a child our family farm produced strawberries and bell peppers for market. Why the difficulty growing a crop I had been around all my life?
In the south strawberries are grown as an annual. Small plants are planted in rows in early February under plastic sheeting. In south Louisiana where I grew up you would pass acres and acres of strawberry fields. The berries depending on where you lived started ripening about May and by June there were strawberries everywhere. Then the berry plants were pulled up and the plastic destroyed until the next growing season. I can remember when I was a very young child and before plastic was so readily available they mulched the berry plants with pine straw.
Here in the north strawberries are grown as a perennial. The plants are planted in early spring which for me is about April. They are mulched with wheat straw which is readily available in our area where wheat production is heavy. The plants are left there to produce runners and fill in the bed for about 3 years or until their production starts to decrease and then they are pulled up and a new bed replanted.
For me I planted new plants last year so part of my bed is year old plants and then I added to my bed this year so the addition has plants that are just a few months old. I like this because I will always have a portion of my bed with established older plants therefore insuring a constant yearly harvest. When it is time to take the older plants out and replant them the newer plants will be in full production. It took some getting used to growing strawberries this way but I like that they are totally organic There are no plastics only organic mulch. Just another way of going green.
The first big berries are eaten fresh and frozen for later use. As the season progresses the berries tend to get smaller and these berries I use for strawberry jam and maybe some strawberry wine. The grandkids love my homemade strawberry ice cream. So even though I had to relearn an old skill I now again produce my own berries for my family.