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August 03, 2020



I grew strawberries in two locations with no exceptional attention. I think the difference is yield and size. I'm basically okay with low yields and very okay with small size (the smaller berries have more flavor), so: it works. Well enough, anyway.

(but you do have to protect the berries from bunnies/squirrels/slugs, or those gradually-reddening berries will be gone the night before you would have picked them)


KC - thank you, that is encouraging. Today I noticed it is greening up. I also spotted a squirrel calculating how he could scale the arbor and jump over to the top of the container and dig everything up.


Squirrels. Squirrels do that.

When I was a young teen, I got really mad at the slugs and squirrels eating literally *all* the strawberries I grew (I had a little edge garden plot on the main garden and grew strawberries in it for several years; no competence, bad soil, still they survived and produced a few dozen berries per year). So I stitched drawstrings onto circles of organza and put one of these little baggies over each strawberry just as it started to get an edge of pink. And it worked! It was completely ridiculous, but with an abundance of free time, it worked. :-) (well, also, there were probably 7-9 plants and never more than 10 strawberries ripening in baggies at any given time, and I only needed to bag a few up every few days for this "system" to work. It was very small scale. But I *really* enjoyed those few strawberries - and sharing them.)

But I never found out a way to keep squirrels from digging things in container gardens up and destroying everything. Sigh. (although I've heard that pet fur can work? But I only have houseplants, so no dice there.)


I've had pretty good luck with strawberries. I plant them in a sub-irrigation planters (Patio Picker) in potting mix, and they take off. This year, I've been putting runners into pots with potting mix, and getting Many More Strawberry plants that way. The strawberries we're using are Mara de Bois ones.

This is our first year with a garden after moving a few years ago. The main problem for us right now is that the berries are very popular with birds, bugs, and squirrels. We're keeping the birds off using reflective pinwheels, but the bugs and squirrels are winning. I'm hoping that we can have fewer bugs next year-- there's a kind that only comes around every few years, and this is a year for them. We tried putting drawstring teabags on them to protect the berries from the bugs, which was labor intensive... but the squirrels make off with the bagged strawberries and eat them anyway. We've found the bags at the bottom of trees and I actually spotting one running off with one yesterday. The bugs have also started eating the strawberry flowers, which we don't want to cover for the sake of pollination. I've pretty much given up on getting strawberries this year and am planning on resuming the fight when the plants start producing again next year. Not sure what I'll do, but it'll be something.

The plants are happy, at least. It's just that we've only gotten to have less than 10 actual strawberries ourselves.


Alice - can you put metal netting, of a size that squirrels can't get to, over the plants? That would let pollinators in but no squirrels. I'm thinking a half-cylinder of metal netting, held together by twisty-ties or similar, that you can lift off to access the strawberries but that's heavy or tent-pegged in place or spiky at the bottom so the squirrels can't conveniently shimmy under? I've seen people do that for bird deterrence, too.


KC - I tried the pet fur thing decades ago, and it seems to make mo difference. I am not making little organza sleep bonnets.
Alice - the idea that a squirrel would take off with a lovingly teabagged strawberry is so infuriating. I can just picture it from your description.
Both - did the strawberries taste that much better than store-bought?


90% of the strawberries tasted that much better than ye olde California grocery store berries. 10% of the strawberries were picked after being rained on and tasted... watered-down? It was weird. I don't know what the deal was.

I'd say the good ones were roughly equivalent to the local u-pick berries eaten from the field, though; maybe a bit better, or maybe I was just paying more attention when I had One Berry From The Garden vs. pounds and pounds of berries, most of which were going to turn into jam..

And yes, I did not honestly expect you to make little organza sleep bonnets. :-) You may be able to put netting over them to deter squirrels, though (will not help with bugs). Good to know that pet fur didn't help.


KC - that’s good to know. If a meal costs twice as much and only tastes or ‘’feels” 50% better I don’t feel it’s worth it. If strawberries are twice the trouble and only 50% are better I would give up early. But if we are saying 90% are somewhat better. That weighs in. Now of the strawberries in the 90% ... are they then 100% better, or only 10% better?


If we're talking January Grocery Store Strawberries (the large hollow ones with a lot of white in them? or the ones you get in fruit salad on airplanes?), then we're talking 4-5x better (if not more, because man, those berries are *sad* if you think of them as strawberries. If you think of them as Crisp Tart Fruit With A Hint Of Strawberry Flavor, and dress them with a honey-lime-juice mixture they're quite good...). From January Grocery Store Strawberries to home-grown is probably equivalent distance as for grocery store not-local romas vs. homegrown tomatoes (but ease of gardening, harvesting, and crop yield: the palm goes to homegrown tomato plants over the strawberries by quite a long way).

But how much better really depends on what you've got as a baseline comparison for strawberries.

If we're talking local u-pick berries (or farmer's market berries that are actually fresh and local and picked ripe), then... eh, questionable. It might end up coming down to which varieties the u-pick place has vs. which varieties you have.

(out of curiosity, what's planted at bunny-level that they've eaten? I was surprised in my garden when the bunnies went for the carrot *tops* and 1. not the carrots and 2. not the lettuce that was beautifully growing next to the carrot tops.)


KC - baseline? Sadly, the white strawberries that almost have to rot before they taste like anything. My ideal is the strawberry the child eats in the opening credits to true blood, if that is indeed a strawberry. https://youtu.be/5CV4eGS7H5I


Well, that was creepy. (I watched it on mute to find the kid-with-fruit.)

I don't think that's a strawberry - somewhat too dark? (strawberries have *bright* red juice)

If you've only had that kind of strawberry, then homegrown might get you very enthusiastic. :-) That said, if the squirrels or something *do* thwart you, it looks like St. Louis does have u-pick farms within sane distances so you can get real berries. (assuming that St. Louis can grow decent berries) A day-trip expedition, preferably on a Thursday or so such that the fields aren't crowded and haven't been picked over, in late May or early June, pack along lemonade and sandwiches and make sure you've got cream to go with the strawberries when you get home. (I'd suggest shortcake, but carbs->feeling lousy would probably contraindicate shortcake. But real strawberries with whipped cream: so good.)


KC - you know it isn’t a strawberry! I thought it was for years.

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