In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
May, 2012
Regional Report

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By digging out young strawberry plants from a weedy patch, you can start a new, weed-free strawberry bed.

Fresh Homegrown Strawberries

Strawberries are among my favorite small fruits, but I've been fighting a battle with the invading quack grass in my strawberry bed. This weedy grass will not defeat my resolve to grow more berries.

I've decided to take time to dig out the healthy young plants fighting with the weedy grass and transplant them to a new, weed-free area. Strawberries are resilient plants and these transplants will get off to a strong and healthy start in a well-prepared new spot.

Strawberries do best in an area that receives at least eight hours of sunlight each day. Good soil is a must for productive strawberries, so be generous when adding compost. I spread a 2-inch layer of compost over the new bed and thoroughly incorporate it into the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Strawberries also need a source of nitrogen, so along with the compost, I'll add an organic lawn food to get about one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. There are also phosphorus and iron in the lawn food that will benefit the berries.

My favorite strawberry varieties are the everbearing types. They are not only hardier, but unlike the June bearers that produce one big crop a year, everbearers produce a main crop in June and more berries in summer and early fall. Some of the more available everbearing varieties include Ogallala, Fort Laramie, Ozark Beauty, Superfection, Quinault, Geneva, Gen and Red Rich.

Day-neutral strawberries are another dependable type. Fern, Tribute, and Tristar are day-neutral and differ from traditional June-bearing types in that they flower and fruit continuously when temperatures moderate, since they are insensitive to day length. These are well adapted to container gardens, too.

When planting strawberries don't set the plants in the ground so shallowly that roots are exposed or so deep that the base of leaves are buried. Either situation can kill new plants. A mulch of straw or similar material on the soil surface will keep the fruit from touching the soil and developing rot or getting muddy. In the winter, cover the plants with a thin layer of light mulch such as straw to protect them from desiccation by winter wind.

If dreams of fresh strawberries tantalize you, now is the time to make those dreams come true in your garden. Plants are widely available and can even be transplanted from a crowded bed that is being overrun by quack grass.

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