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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Strawberry Patches Are Overrated

I'm getting rid of my strawberry patch.  Period.

When I expanded my garden a couple of years ago I devoted one of my four 4x8 foot beds to a strawberry patch.  I dreamed of the endless pints of delicious strawberries my strawberry patch would produce.  I scoffed at other gardeners who complained incessantly over how invasive the strawberries were.  Stupid gardeners, I thought.  Just put them in a raised bed!

I love the leaves of the strawberry plant.  Deep green, like giant clovers except the leaves are veiny with pointed edges. I love how they turn red in the fall then shrivel up and die like there's no hope for next year.  But alas every spring they return dutifully and multiply.

These plants are a pain in my ass.  There is no better way to say it.  They manipulate me into thinking I'll be in fresh organic strawberry heaven when the bed is a carpet of beautiful green strawberry plants.  But they don't produce that much.  And they attract all manner of birds and squirrels.  A big percentage of the fruit I harvest has a bite taken out.  Eventually I'll cover the bed with bird netting which protects the fruit but always ends up tangled with weeds and it makes harvesting strawberries dreadful.  And the weeds!  God!  Weeding that strawberry bed is virtually impossible because the vines running along the dirt are so intertwined.  They remind me of tangled cords behind a TV entertainment center or the wires on a giant computer server.  Imagine trying to find a weed, green like the strawberry vines only more slender.  The weeds, the strawberry vines, they are all tangled together like a woven basket.  I grab hold of the base of a weed and yank it out but its bindweed, tightly wrapped around the strawberry vine.  The bindweed breaks at the base leaving an inch sticking up from the dirt but the roots of some strawberry plants are yanked out, too.  Causalities of war.

The worst part is that the strawberries are sour.  I don't fertilize them or add compost to the bed, maybe that's why.  I have no idea what variety I'm growing.  I started out with a few plants from a friend and they have multiplied so much that they are now overcrowded in their 4x8 raised bed.  Not only that, putting them in a raised bed does not contain them.  They spill over the edges which does look pretty.  It makes for great pictures, the dark foliage and bright red strawberries against the cedar wood.  But as soon as they get long enough to touch the ground they root.  And they seem to grow under the wood of the raised beds or under the ground, I have no idea how they escape.  I gave away all the plants outside the bed this past summer, dug some up and planted them in pots. Still, by the end of the season they'd spread about 10 inches outside their bed.  Strawberries without borders.

They've had their chance.  In the Spring of 2012 when the plants come in, I'll dig them all up and give them away. There must be a better use for that bed.  Maybe I'll grow more herbs or tomatoes.  Good riddance, strawberry patch!  Thanks for nothin.

1 comment:

  1. Andrea G in Morgan Hill, CADecember 13, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    Hmm If they are sour and invasive why give them away? Just put a few layers of cardboard on top of the plants [you could do it now] and add some soil on top and plant something else. They will at least provide decaying compost for the future plants - you could have some great tomatoes... I've never planted strawberries, but I'm planning on doing it in 2012, but I'm planting the variety that my CSA uses and I'm doing it in a big hanging strawberry thingy. No invasions... Good luck with your bed!