Taking stock this fall we determined that strawberry plants are successful. Despite the fact that the turkeys ate every single piece of red fruit, the plants multiply rapidly, they don’t need water other than what they get from the rain, they grow in crummy soil, they don’t mind a bit of shade, they are perennials, sustainable and delicious, (unless the turkeys get to them before you do). The family of turkeys this year included 11 babies so they really did a number on our morale in the strawberry department. Full disclosure, the above photo is last year’s harvest. I’m hoping the turkeys move on this winter and we return to the former glory of last season. However, in the meantime, we were determined to find success in whatever we could so I decided to teach how to divide and share the plants.
In 2007, my first year teaching at the Boston Pre Release Center Garden, a donor gave us 4 strawberry plants. We now have 1,000s of strawberry plants. Wednesday was the tail end of the heat wave so I knew we needed a shady job or else I would lose my students. We ended up moving from one shady spot to the next carrying all our tools and buckets of water.
First we dug up a shovel full of seemingly parched earth, brown leaves and weeds. We then carried the clump to the shade. I demonstrated once how to shake out the dry soil, pull out the weeds (which fascinated the students since it was mostly ajuga which mimics the strawberries with its runners and serrated leaves, we had a cool talk about that too as many weeds seemingly mimic those around them), cut off the runners to create multiple plants, prune the roots, prune the brown leaves…
A student arrived late to class and one of the earlier students said “let me catch him up on this” and he proceeded to describe the process in detail. Rewarding teaching moment.
We then hydrated the thirsty little plants and let them have a good soak in a laundry bucket.
The guys then rolled up each little plant one at a time in a damp paper towel or newspaper and wrapped each in a plastic bag, each one done very neatly and with care. We then placed them all in small buckets and one guy wrote a note with instructions.
Both buckets were left on the entrance table to the visiting center for anyone to take.
Again, we try each week to concentrate on what works and build on that. Its really profitable in MANY ways.