Our strawberry plants are going strong and producing a huge amount of strawberries. This photo is of a gallon container holding a single day's harvest. We are picking the strawberries every other day. We eat a lot of them fresh, and we are freezing the rest for making preserves at the end of the season and for use throughout the remainder of the year. It will be interesting to see how much we end up with in the freezer. If I had to wager, I would say we'll get six gallons.
The Eversweets were the first to bloom and form berries. Most of of the other everbearing varieties started shortly thereafter: Seascape, Ozark Beauty, Quinault, and Tristar. Ogallala is always the last to ripen. The june bearers that we planted last year are only producing very, very small button sized berries this year: Lateglow, Jewel, and Allstar. The Earliglow june bearers that I planted this spring appear to be settling in.
In 2010, our strawberries started to ripen on April 11th and continued through the end of May. In 2011, the strawberries started producing on March 23rd. Almost two and a half weeks earlier than last year. We'll see how long they continue to produce. Based upon last year, I am guessing that they will continue through mid-May, but we will see.
In late March, I spread 50 pounds of diatomaceous earth (DE) around all of the strawberry plants. I think it really helped to ward off the slugs. However, we have had several days of rain in April, and the rain appears to have rinsed away a fair amount of the DE. It rained a couple of days just this week, and the pill bugs have come out in force. I have another bag of DE that I may spread around to see if it does any good.
The one thing that I have concluded is that I have planted some of the strawberry plants too closely together in certain spots. The plants and their fruit do much better when there is space between the plants. Without the spacing, the pill bugs and slugs seem to dominate and ruin the berries. Additionally, I think the extra shade prevents the berries from ripening as quickly and taking on a really nice color. I will remove and relocate some of these plants in the late winter.
I also plan to do a much better job of cutting back all of the dead leaves in February. The dead leaves really accumulate, make it harder to harvest, and provide hiding spots for the pill bugs.