Strawberry Success

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - by Joan Casanova

Homegrown strawberries are a billion times better tasting than the hard, rarely ripe, flavorless selection in the supermarket. Strawberries are cold-hardy and adaptable, making them one of the easiest berries to grow. While most fruit trees take several years to begin bearing, you can harvest your own strawberries the very first summer. And even if you live in an apartment or small home, you can grow strawberries in a container, on your balcony, rooftop, or patio. If your horizontal space is limited, consider growing strawberries in a hanging basket or stacked planter, which will allow you to take advantage of vertical growing space as the strawberry plants tumble out over the sides.

There are two main kinds of strawberries: "June-bearing" and "Ever-bearing" varieties. June-bearing, bear all at once, usually over a period of about 3 weeks. Because of their earliness, high quality and concentrated fruit set, June-bearers produce high yields of very large, sweet, extra juicy berries in late mid-season, which is usually late spring and early summer, depending on your geographic region. These are the best variety for preserving.

“Ever-bearing” strawberries produce a big crop from spring flowers, set light flushes of fruit through summer, and then bloom and bear again in late summer and fall. Perfect for large containers or raised beds, where you can give them attentive watering and regular feeding. 

 Bonnie Plants, available at most garden retailers, offers a good selection of strawberries including:  “Ozark Beauty”This ever-bearing variety produces high yields of large, very sweet fruit from late spring until frost, with concentrated fruiting in summer and again in fall. Ideal for jam, preserves, or desserts. Plants are cold-hardy, send out long runners and are great for containers. “Quinalt”– the most popular ever-bearing variety, offers large, soft, deliciously sweet fruit, ideal for preserves or fresh eating.

June-bearing “Allstar” produces high yields of very large, sweet, extra juicy berries in late mid-season, which is usually late spring and early summer, depending on when summer arrives in your area. As a June-bearer, the harvest season is concentrated over a few weeks, making it a good choice if you want to freeze or cook with a lot of berries at one time. Remember to plant so the crown is just above soil level.

Timely Tips to ensure strawberry success:

*When planting strawberries, be sure the crown is above soil level and the upper most roots are 1/4 inch beneath soil level, buried crowns rot and exposed roots dry out. Strawberry plants should be placed approximately 14 to 18 inches apart from each other in neat rows that are separated by 2-3 feet each.  Let runners fill in until plants are 7-10 inches apart.

*Use mulch to keep berries clean, conserve moisture and control weeds.

*If you want to keep it simple, plant strawberries in a container.  Just remember that container plantings need much more water than in-ground plantings, usually once a day; and if it's hot, twice. Strawberry pots are the obvious, best container choice for growing strawberries. You can fit several plants in one pot; just make sure whatever type of garden pot you use has good drainage.Strawberries have a relatively small root ball and can be grown in containers as small as 10-12 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep. However, the smaller the container, the more frequently you will need to water. Synthetic and light colored pots will keep the roots cooler than dark colors and natural materials that conduct heat.

*Strawberries like well drained fairly rich soil, so be sure to add compost or other organic matter when preparing the pot or patch.

*Strawberry plants need full sun, 6-8 hours per day, and frequent, deep soakings. They will grow in all zones and should be fed twice a year -- when growth begins and after the first crop. You’ll need to feed them with a plant food like Bonnie Plant Food, this natural herb and vegetable plant food has nutrients and growth stimulants that your strawberry plants will love.

*.Control slugs and snails by handpicking them off plants and prevent theft from birds by covering your patch with netting as the first berries ripen.

Strawberries are one of the easiest and most delicious home garden fruits to grow. Try growing them with kids, plants produce fruit throughout the summer and children will love to pluck them right off the plant, wash and eat! If your kids have yet to plant and care for a fruit or vegetable, strawberries are a perfect choice for their first gardening experience. Kids can help create a delicious strawberry desert too, using super sweet, delectable strawberries picked right in the backyard.

Kick off this gardening season and get growing strawberries.

 For more info on growing strawberries as well as vegetables and herbs visit www.bonnieplants.com.



Puckett's Gro. Celebrates First Responders This Holiday Season

Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant, 2 W Aquarium Way in downtown Chattanooga, will host a “First Responders Family Meal” from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 24, allowing those who will be on duty for Christmas Day an opportunity to celebrate the holiday with their loved ones. All first responders and their families are invited to attend the special meal at the Southern eatery, ... (click for more)

National Cornbread Cook-Off Seeks New Champion

It’s time to submit a National Cornbread Cook-off recipe. Lodge Cast Iron and Martha White are searching the nation for the best original main dish cornbread recipes in the 22nd Annual Lodge National Cornbread Cook-Off.   Now through Jan. 15, 2018, Cook-Off applicants can submit an original main dish/entree recipe prepared with at least one package of Martha White Cornbread ... (click for more)

Person Shot With Life-Threatening Injuries On The Southside Early Sunday Morning; Delivery Driver Carjacked On Southside

A person was shot on the Southside early Sunday morning. Police said the victim had life-threatening injuries. The shooting happened just before 3 a.m. at 1400 Cowart St. One resident said, "I was walking my dogs this morning in SouthSide and there has been a shooting (again) in the parking lot off of 13th Steet. "There have been two shootings in this lot in the last ... (click for more)

Bradley County Deputy Shoots And Kills Stabbing Suspect At Charleston

A Bradley County deputy shot and killed a man who was a suspect in a stabbing early Sunday morning. The Sheriff's Office said, "At approximately 11:54 p.m. on Saturday, a call was received at the Cleveland/Bradley County 911 Center to report a stabbing at a residence on Leyland Drive in Charleston. "The caller indicated a male had been stabbed and another male had fled from ... (click for more)

The Growing Monopoly

Over the last decade, five tech giants have risen to the top, and created, discovered and invented services and products that have made these companies worth billions today. Those five, of course, are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Each of these companies are responsible for several products and services that we use in our everyday lives. They have devoured the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Those We All Ignore

I was in the midst of my “morning readings” the other day when a number leapt off my computer screen. Hark, heralded angels, did you know in the state of Iowa there are two (2) inpatient psychiatry beds for every 100,000 people? I’m not the best with percentages but there are some people in Iowa who aren’t getting the help they need. There are roughly 3.2 million people living in ... (click for more)