Growing strawberries for the family took us a little while to get right. Pete and I started seriously growing them in 2015 at our place in Elk, WA. Beginning with seed, because of budget restrictions gave me very little success, but I didn’t give up and kept planting for 3 years. Looking at this picture they look pretty scraggly. Finally we determined that the location they were put in the garden was not good for them.
When we expanded our garden in 2018, I decided to move the strawberry patch to the other side. First, building a 8″ raised bed approx 16 ft long x 2.5 ft wide using old concrete blocks and then transplanting the plants. We were blessed with a gift of more starts from my friend’s beautiful patch, and she also showed me how to pull the runners as I picked. Even though this was a new patch, because of the move, these 2 suggestions really made a noticeable improvement to the strawberry harvest and fruit size.
In the spring of 2019 my strawberries were overcrowded and desperately needing thinning. I removed the concrete blocks (CMU) surrounding the raised bed. Then we tilled the area around the original raised patch, and lowered the soil level to be equal with the surrounding garden. We could disc the soil with our tractor then.
Thinning the overgrown area, I transplanted them to the newly tilled area in rows about 4-6 inches apart. The strawberry area became a 20 ft x 8 ft patch.
This is what it looks like this year and now this old gardening girl is beginning to wonder, “What was I thinking?” We are already harvesting a lot of berries this summer. Sometimes my body talks to me about it and I am making friends with Tylenol and Aspirin in the evenings.
Here is the first little bucket of spears asparagus harvested this year. It has a mixture of older roots that produce the thicker guys and quite a few baby spears that I cut so that these newer plants concentrate on producing roots instead of stalk. I will pick about this much every two days from our one row of mature spears. Last year Pete and I planted another 6 rows from seed so in a couple more years we should be able to make pickled asparagus and even take some to the farmers market.
There is nothing like slightly steamed asparagus with butter and garlic. Yum! We look forward to this short season crop. It has lots of nutrients that re-energize us as we get our garden planted and going in spring. Here it is cleaned and ready to put in the pan and the compost is in the white bucket on the left. Experience the flavor of freshly picked spears and you are spoiled for life.
This crop take the patience of Job to start in the garden. Multiple years before you get a reliable harvest, but, it is truly worth all the effort. I started the first 25 foot row by buying those expensive 6 roots for $9 at the farm supply store. Roots were all that was available in the seed books and store, so I was under the impression that you had to start asparagus by a root. Wrong, bare roots work but that is not the only way to go.
You can plant them with seed just as easily. If you let the plants go to seed and collect them in the Fall, you can save a lot of money in increasing your asparagus output. Asparagus produces a lot of seed, so I don’t understand why the outlets that have seed charge so much for it.
Planting takes soil preparation requiring you to dig channels that you fill back up as they grow. The goal is to get a lot of root going and it takes patience, care and time. The biggest difficulty I had with growing this was lack of information to help do that. It is hard to weed around starts if you don’t know what they look like as they start to come up. They do not look like the adult plant, so I murdered a lot of my starts before I caught on. Here are some pictures of how they look in the early stages.