One project I am glad to finally have in the ground and establishing roots is my strawberry patch. A while back I read about a garden designer who likes to line walk ways with strawberries. I thought this would be a great idea for the meandering path that leads from the sidewalk to our front door. My gaze quickly turned however, to the two large built-in planters we have at the end of our front yard. Our yard is raised several feet higher than the sidewalk so it's flat instead of having a gentle slope from the sidewalk to the house. This is great for our plans to have a front yard garden, and resulted in two large planters being created by the retaining wall. This unused weed infested sun drenched location seemed to me to be the perfect place for an even bigger strawberry patch then we had originally envisioned along the walk way!
A few weeks ago we bought a very healthy flat (about 32 plants) of Quinault strawberries from our local nursery for a very reasonable $2.75 per six pack. I had toyed with the idea of buying bare root strawberries since they are even cheaper, but the only local place to find them was at Wal-Mart, and I don't have a lot of faith that their nursery department has properly cared for them. Bare root strawberries are also said to have a higher fail rate than regular strawberry packs, so I figured the initial money savings would probably even out in the end.
I chose to go with Quinualt out of the millions of available strawberry varieties for several reasons. One, they are said to be one of the most disease resistant strawberry varieties available. Two, they have very large fruit and flavor. And third, they are an everbearing variety. I had originally thought of planting two varieties, one june-bearing (determinate) and one everybearing (in-determinant), but ultimately decided given my uses for strawberries that I would be better suited by one that bears fruit all summer. If you like to make a lot of strawberry jam, then a june-bearing variety would be a better choice for you. (A little secret: I don't really eat jam, I just love to make it so I end up with tons of cans that I have to find creative uses for!)
Now all I have left to do is pick a mulch for the area and I will be on my way to a summer filled with sweet homegrown strawberries!! Oh and um, maybe I should weed the front "yard" while I'm at it...
If you plan on growing a strawberry patch of your own, do not plant it where you grew tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant or okra the year before. These plants all can carry Verticillium Rot which can infect your strawberries.