Friday, March 22, 2013

Strawberry Fields Forever!

shortly after we established our "briar patch" we realized that it would be a significant learning experience for us and we would probably be recreating it because of the poor soil quality.  but that was ok ... it is all a learning process and the work that we've done in the area will only serve to improve it massively .... so it was not wasted or lost time.  so a negative .... but we will turn it into a positive!

that is of course, apart from our one unadulterated success .... the strawberries.

when we were still living in town i was given a whole bunch of strawberry suckers from a friend who herself was being overwhelmed by the "prolificness" of these little beasties.  and i set about nurturing them in styro boxes until i could fulfill my dream ...

my dream:  to have a huge bed of strawberries and asparagus (great companion plants!) that would keep our family in fresh yummy goodness and jams always.  my hope was that this little batch of strawberry suckers i had been gifted with would be the start of that.

strawberries and asparagus ...
all snuggled in!
So very quickly the plants grew and it was time to put them in!  we did a lot of work to ensure that the soil was good .... we are in such heavy clay that growing above ground is really the best thing we can do.

the idea behind this long bed was that it would have a high centre to accommodate the asparagus crowns and that strawberries would grow down each side.  and it worked well ...we were getting the odd strawberry and they were yummy.  even my husband who doesn't like strawberries because of the seeds changed his mind once he tasted one that had been freshly picked. even the first season asparagus was doing really well .... it was great.

BUT .....

life gets hectic ... we moved out to the block, got a few animals and there was (is!) a huge amount of work to do.  and this is wild land .... and if you don't manage it well, you loose control of it very quickly.  we realised quite early on that we would need to rebirth the briar patch .... so we let it go.  the potato's, blueberries, peas ... artichokes ... let nature have her way.  we decided to get piggies to put on the briar patch and really decimate the area and build up the soil quality to start again.  so out came all the blueberries and artichokes (leaving the root crops for the piggies to enjoy).

but i didn't want to let go of my strawberries and asparagus .... truly!  so i wanted to see if they would survive and figured we can fence it off from the piggies.  let's see how my little red beauties survived the onslaught of mother nature for a while and then check it out.

well, today was d-day.  piggies are coming soon and the things that i wanted to save had to be moved.  i wanted to peak at the strawberries and see how they had survived ..... oh .... my .... goodness.

where there is a will there is a way!

i know .... it seems like a mess .... but believe me .... the strawberries are doing so well!  they have thrown out so many suckers that have taken root and are truly holding their own .... the clover that is growing is providing a great grass inhibitor and allowed the strawberries to continue to grow.  and the asparagus has rooted well and thrown up some good fern that will bring on some great asparagus next spring.

i'm soooo happy with this experiment .... yeah, okay ... it will need a fair tidy up, no doubts about that.  but they survived ... no they THRIVED .... and we have our strawberry field .... it is in ... established, and with a bit of TLC it will come up trumps!

now we are on to stage 2!  we will be planting guilds around the fruit trees in our orchard ... and strawberries are a great ground cover.  i need more strawberries!  so what did i do this morning?  gathered suckers of course!

 these were gathered in about 15 minutes this morning .... lots of varying growth on them .... and heaps more that i could pull.  so this is the start of my next generation of strawberries.  and all this started as a gift from a friend .... <g>
my next batch of suckers bedded in to grow and become
strong second generation just earth strawberry plants!

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