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Early planting is essential for starting strawberry patch

Know It and Grow It
Lead Summary
George Bonnema, Luverne Horticulturalist

Our spring weather certainly has been unstable this year. I don’t understand how a tulip flower stem can survive 16 degrees and still stand firm and continue on to a beautiful flower.
My blooming daffodils didn’t come through the cold as well. The leaves are still green so they can feed the bulb to develop the flower for next year.
That is why we stress the importance of leaving the leaves of spring-flowering bulbs intact until they turn yellow. Those weeks between flowering and the foliage maturing and drying down is when the flower bud is forming in the bulb for the next season.
That is the tricky part of cutting tulips for cut flowers. Often the stem of the flower isn’t very tall, but you don’t want to cut more than one leaf with the flower because of the needed energy produced by the foliage to replenish the bulb.
For the cut flower market, the bulb is disposed of after the flower is produced. But in our garden, we want the bulbs to keep blooming for consecutive years.
I am writing this on Sunday night. We have had cold wind, rain and snow today, but tomorrow is predicted to be warm in comparison to the previous weeks. So, tomorrow I will be in the garden planting as fast as I can because rain is predicted for Tuesday, and the 15-day forecast doesn’t show any below freezing temperatures. That doesn’t mean planting tomatoes, peppers or any of the tender plants. The soil temperature isn’t warm enough for that at this point. The crops I will plant are the cole crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and lettuce, peas, carrots radish, spinach, beets and onions. These vegetables all benefit from getting started while the soil temperature is cool.
If you are hoping to get a strawberry patch started, early planting is essential, especially if you are planting bare root plants (dormant plants not growing in a container).
You have the choice of June-bearing, which produce for a couple of weeks in late June, or ever-bearing, which produce a crop in late June, take the month of July off and then start yielding again in August. They will continue blooming and producing until it gets too cold in the fall.
The ever-bearing variety I grow is Seascape. I grow that one because I appreciate fresh for as long as possible for the season. They definitely are more work because you absolutely have to keep harvesting to avoid damage from insects that are attracted by overripe fruit.
Spotted Wing Drosophila is a fruit fly pest in our area, and strawberries are one of their favorites. The June-bearing varieties are usually finished before the insect population becomes a problem.
If the season is hot and dry, strawberries need an inch of water per week to produce good fruit. If you need to irrigate, NEVER water overhead with a sprinkler. That is the surest way to invite disease that will ruin the fruit. Rain is different in that it usually doesn’t last long; however, a prolonged period of rain will cause the same problem.
Hope you are getting outdoors in the morning to hear the bird choir practicing … absolutely amazing.

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