Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Strawberry Patch and a Matching Dehydrator

Like some of you out there have reported, I too have had a great deal of difficulty getting my strawberry plant orders in. Finally, after placing 3 orders with 3 companies, 2 of them came in. What is funny, is that the only one I didn't have problems with was Jung's. I ordered from them last of all and got theirs first.

Gurney's came in second with only one delay. My Park Seed order, placed in January, still hasn't come and no notification has ever been given, only reluctantly admitted when badgered by phone.

But anyway, I'm now the proud mama of 75 Strawberry plants and I immediately set to work getting them in the ground.

Now, that strawberry patch may not look impressive to you, but to me it is a joy to behold. Why? Because that piece of ground is a nightmare! Truly. That little tree you see is actually the 4th one of it's kind to be there. The previous three have died there. My house isn't even 4 years old so this is worriesome.

The matching one on the other side is hale and hearty. It is only in this patch of dirt we have problems.

I finally figured it out though and now have high hopes. It turns out this little 6 foot by 12 foot patch of ground had several problems: poor drainage and fill dirt hidden underneath being the main culprits.

So, this past weekend I dug it out. I mean...dug. Pulling out all the house building debris that construction workers had hidden underneath the pretty layer of dirt and sod they put down afterwards, digging up the dead tree, freaking out over a great many worms and bugs, pulling up every blade of runnered grass and weed was the first half. I then filled it back up with a lovely compost and topsoil mixture and added 6 inches in height for drainage. I bordered it with those blocks and then planted my tree and strawberries.

What amazed me was that those little leafless bundles of roots put out leaves in less than 24 hours. Amazing!

Oh, and those 3 in front are testers. I went ahead and bought 3 of those $2.98 each strawberry plants from Lowe's to see if there really was a difference in the plants by the time for bearing comes. We'll see!

And for my big news...drumroll...I finally bought an Excalibur Dehydrator! I got the 9 tray, 3900 Model, which is my heart's desire! This month, till today actually, they had a pretty amazing special going with 50 bucks off the price plus a whole lot of accessories and free shipping. They are a significant investment, I know, but using the WalMart Nesco special last year for the first time showed me the value of a good dehydrator.

For me, it is really important to Store what I Grow and Eat what I Store! In short, no waste if possible. Freezing stuff is fine, I suppose, but it uses a lot of energy. Dehydrated stuff is no fuss, no muss and isn't going to spoil when I lose power in storms. Plus it keeps nutrition really well and seriously, who doesn't love home-made jerky or fruit wraps?

I'm very excited to get it and can't wait to start the production going for this year!


Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

All that hard work with pay off! And, that dehydrator is also on my wish list, but I'm happy with the small one I have. It looks great!!

TheMartianChick said...

Your strawberry patch looks great! I can't wait until my strawberries arrive. I think I ordered a 3 variety special from Gurneys...It is still too early for me to plant them.

The dehydrator sounds fantastic. I asked about purchasing a dehydrator in a forum and EVERYONE said that the Excalibur was the one to buy. It is not in my budget right now, but maybe in the fall. I have been pricing out the small ones (like the Nesco) which are in my price range, but I think that I just want to buy it once and get a darn good one!

Make sure that you keep us up to date on what you're dehydrating and how they taste. I've only had things like banana chips and berries that have been dehydrated. I'm really interested in the more unusual stuff.

BittersweetPunkin said...

Oh that is a joy to behold I agree!! I hope those Strawberry plants thrive! I am growing a few things too this year...for me it will be more of a Science experiment and I will be giddy if anything comes to fruition. When I lived in New England I was able to grow ANYTHING...here in WET Washington it's a gamble!

Milah said...

75 strawberry plants! O.M.G! I only bought 20. My mom started a patch once with 4 plants and boy did they spread. I hope yours does well...you'll be the envy of the neighborhood.

Angie said...

O the new construction misery. We do the excavation and the foundations, and i feel sorry for anybody that buys those houses. It is the worst dirt imaginable! Filled with rocks, and any home building debris you can think of, always hidden under brand new sod, bark dust and that fancy looking black soil they put on that is only 1/8" thick. O and don't forget that 17,000lb machine that was driving all over your yard! And that is of you are lucky to have a small lot and the big excavator won't fit otherwise your getting 36,000lbs of compaction.
I envy your strawberries!! Looks like i won't have a garden this year at all :(
I have been thinking of a dehydrator for some time now too.
Make sure you post on your first batch with pics!

fullfreezer said...

Hooray for strawberries! That bed looks great. Mine are set to arrive the last week of April so I hope we have closed by then on the new house. How exciting about the big new dehydrator. I have my little, cheap one that I've had for years. A new, bigger model is on the wish list but definitely something that can wait.

Christy said...

I planted 25 strawberries and still have 25 to plant, but I have no idea where to put them! I didn't know I was getting so many.

ChristyACB said...

MartianChick - I left a response to my dehydration experiments last year on your Quail Egg entry. :)

Punkin - Maybe it will be a science experiment this year, but you'll probably be a true pro before you know it. Are you going to try the raised beds for better drainage? I've heard they work really well out your way.

Milah - Oh yes, I'm hoping for spread. But I was also a bit worried about it that is why I went with that enclosed bed. It would have to cross a walkway or a driveway to runner too far!

Angie - You've described almost exactly what I found! LOL. Luckily for me the area is bordering wetlands so the heavy machinery was very VERY limited and my compaction not as bad. But you wouldn't believe the stuff I found down there.

Judy - I'm so hoping you get closed on the new place by the time the garden needs to go in. It will be so wonderful if you can have it your first year!

Christy - Do you have any of those hanging bags? I put some of the extra in those and hung them on the posts of my porch. They will look very nice when covered in foliage and berries and it is a good way to plant extra without worrying about them spreading too far.

Anonymous said...

Think you will find that Jung's strawberry plants will do the best....we always order from them and have such great plants with tons of runners to start new patches for friends. We got 50 Sparkle berry plants from them this year to add to several other varieties of theirs we grow which will lengthen our berry season. They already have tripled in size in two weeks!

One tip which will increase your berries 40% or more--tested/proven by the U of MO...cover your berry patch with row cover like Remay thru the winter. We never had so many berries as we did last year after trying this method. DEE

Annie said...

Christy, you're going to be inundated with berries this year! Good for you!