Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
November, 2011
Regional Report

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This overcrowded strawberry patch will yield many new plantlets.

Perennial Delight: Strawberries

The highlight of the season in my garden -- besides removing the old summer plants and getting new fall veggies in -- is transplanting strawberries. Strawberries are plentiful growers as well as food producers. The plants multiply so well over a couple of years' time that they must be dug up, the bed renovated or started anew, the best plants replanted, and the rest shared with friends. This replenishment means years and years of yummy berries and never having to purchase them again! That's a real bargain and worthy of the month's main Thanksgiving holiday!

This perpetual production is best initiated now. The soil is still warm, so the new plants get a great start, developing a strong root system over the winter. When spring warmth encourages fast growth and blossoms, the plant is strong and can produce mightily

Here are some guidelines to achieve this lusciousness:

1. Start or renovate strawberry beds away from where potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers have grown within the last three years.
2. Incorporate rock fertilizers, compost, and cottonseed meal for a rich soil.
3. Choose the strongest plants, with three or four vigorous leaves on top and lots of new white roots below.
4. Place the plantlets one foot apart set so the soil level is at the middle space between roots and leaves.
5. Water the entire bed well to settle in the plants and again once a week unless we get at least an inch of rain per storm.
6. Mulches are helpful to dissuade snails and slugs. (They are, after all, "straw" berries!)
7. When blossoms form in spring, I always pluck the blossoms off until the weather is consistently warm and will sweeten the resulting berries nicely. But sometimes I leave a couple of the earliest blossoms just to enjoy the first berries, as tart as they'll be....

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