Brenda lives in northern Virginia with her husband, daughter, and other various creatures who share their backyard wildlife habitat. Brenda became a Master Gardener in 2007, after attempting to put down roots in a yard filled with clay, stones, and poorly laid sod. Little by little, she and her family removed grass, amended soil, and replaced invasive weeds with native plants.

The family now grows vegetables in raised beds year-round. Brenda, who subsequently became a Master Food Volunteer, cooks mainly with seasonal ingredients from her garden, or from local farmers markets. She invites you to join her on her mission to build an eco-friendly habitat, grow organic food, and sustain the small plot of earth we each claim. Brenda shares her gardening, cooking, and beekeeping experiences at beehappygarden.com.

 

 

Strawberries Provide a Lovely, Delicious Garden Border
by Brenda Lynn - posted 06/02/15

Just when I noted the cool and rainy spring, the weather turned, and we had some of the hottest, driest May days on record. That’s Virginia spring weather for you – predictably unpredictable. All things considered, we have a great climate, and a wide range of choice in what we can grow.

Everbearing 'Tribute' produces berries throughout the season.

Of all the things to look forward to in spring, few compare to sweet, juicy berries. Strawberries top my list of favorites, and fortunately, they’re quite easy to grow. There are two types of strawberries that grow in our area: June bearing and everbearing.

 

Everbearing send out fewer runners and produce from May through September in my zone 7 garden. Juneberry plants tend to live longer and bear more fruit, but their harvest is limited to, well, June. Juneberries produce fruit when the plants are one year old, while everbearing produce at 4 months. It’s nice to plant a combination of Juneberry and everbearing, for a complementary harvest. I’ve had great success with June-bearing ‘Delite’ and ‘Earliglow,’ but there are many varieties to chose from. I also use the everbearing cultivar 'Tribute' as a border in the raised-bed herb garden. By pruning runners and stray plants, I'm able to maintain a lush, green border with pretty white flowers and abundant fruit from spring through late summer.

 

Strawberries adapt to a wide range of soils, but they prefer well-drained, slightly sandy loam that is high is organic matter. Early in the year, I cover the strawberries with netting to protect them from birds and squirrels. Straw mulch helps the soil retain even moisture and keeps the fruit off the ground. I periodically feed the plants with compost tea, but by mid-summer, when the first flush of fruit winds down, there’s only time for more pressing garden needs. The squirrels and birds also move on to more abundant food sources, and the strawberries are left alone to regenerate.

 

I don't grow many delicate plants at this stage in my life. There are simply too many other living things, indoors and out, that need nurturing. That’s why I love ever-bearing 'Tribute' - a tribute to the unlikely pleasure of ripe, red berries in September, and to the fact that even with a little neglect here and there, life goes on.

 

Brenda Lynn blogs about gardening in the great state of Virginia, garden-to-table recipes, and pollinator-friendly practices at www.beehappygarden.com.

 

 

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