Growing strawberries with your own strawberry plants
Simple and rewarding, strawberry plants, give you early sweat delights in very large amounts when planting June bearing plants or all summer until frost when you choose everbearing types. Strawberry jam is a great way to save that great taste to be enjoyed all year long. Strawberry wine is just the thing to take that winter chill out of your bones or compliment a barbeque on a nice summer eve.
Grow Both Varieties For Spring Through Frost Treats
A good June bearing Strawberry will give you the one time abundance needed for making preserves, jams, and jellies. They will also give you plenty to freeze for strawberry-shortcake all winter long. If your making wine June bearing is again your best choice.
Ever bearing berries will give you an early burst with more berries clear up until frost. Most often strawberry plants are sold in bundles of twenty five. If you buy two bundles, one of June bearing and one of ever bearing you will have plenty of berries for fresh eating and preserving in a variety of ways.
Plan your Beds For Years Of Production
When you decide where you want your bed, make sure it will get plenty of sunlight. Double dig your bed by first digging a trench on one end about a foot deep then loosening the soil in the trench with a gardening fork another foot deep. Now add about two inches of composted horse manure or compost followed by two or three inches of sphagnum peat moss and then turn the next space over on top of that. Continue until you have completed the bed. When finished mix the top foot of the bed well. A good size bed for twenty-five strawberry plants is five foot wide and six and a half foot long. When you are finished you will have a raised bed about six or eight inches high that will hold enough moisture and still drain well.
You should make one bed for June bearing and one bed for Ever bearing.
Plant two rows in each bed with six inches between plants in each row. Plants should be planted according to instructions accompanying them with the crowns above ground. The rows should be spaced so that your lawn mower can pass between them. Allow your plants to set their runners (or new plants) in the space between the rows you just planted. At the end of the season use your mower to cut the original plants leaving the new plants to produce your next years crop. Next year let the runners grow into the space that you mowed the old plants from the previous year and repeat this ritual every year and you will always have young healthy disease free productive strawberry plants. Mulch your plants to over winter with straw not hay to protect the crowns.
After mowing your plants add some compost and well rotted horse manure (usually free for the taking from a local with horses check your bargain counter) and maybe a little bone meal. Turn these in before the new runners spread and take root. Water your plants when surface dries out until plants are well established but don't over-water, your bed will not require a lot of water if you get a half inch or more rain a week. A straw mulch will hold moisture well. If you put a dusting of Diatomaceous earth around the outer edge of your beds it will discourage slugs from raiding your strawberries.
Strawberry Wine A Sweet Treat For Winter Celebrating
Strawberry wine either just a gallon or so for your self or enough to share as Christmas gifts for friends and family can offer a unique way to preserve your cherished harvest.
Homemade Strawberry Wine
Aprox. 7 pounds of fresh ripe berries washed and hulled.
two gallons of boiling water
Juice of one lemon
five pound of sugar
In a large earthenware crock, mash the berries. Cover with boiling water, add lemon juice, stir rapidly for about two minutes. Cover with a clean linen cloth. Let rest in a cool dark place for one week stirring every day.
After a week, strain the mix through a double layer of cheesecloth into a large clean bowl and discard the pulp (put it in your compost). Mix the berry liquid with the sugar, then, stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a cleaned crock, let stand another week stir daily.
At the end of the second week pour the berry liquid into one gallon glass bottles and cork loosely or use fermentation locks if you have them. Let the wine rest in a cool dark place for another three months. When the wine is clear and no longer fermenting (stopped bubbling) pour into quart bottles, cork and age at least one year before drinking you will be pleasantly surprised.
You can expect to get about approximately two and a half gallons from this recipe.