Building on the #beach. the #kids don’t care it’s cold, they’re just happy to play in #nature December 12, 2011
Christmas tree magnet December 10, 2011
We’re making glass magnets from the kids Christmas art and scraps of wrapping paper. Easy and cute and useful – my kind of craft! This is Bergandy’s (age 3) Christmas tree. And in other news – we’re going to get the real deal this morning.
Restored Woodwards #Christmas window displays downtown #Vancouver. #Kids loved finding them all! December 7, 2011
Dyed pasta drying for the first Xmas craft with the kids November 26, 2011
New Post at ThriftyandGreen.com: Frogs and Polliwogs July 14, 2011
We’re out of town this week on a family vacation. The garden is well mulched and a neighbour will water if it get really dry. My fingers are crossed and I’m trying not to envision the worst.
So while I’ve nothing new to report here, there is a new post about Frogs and Polliwogs up in my Growing Up Green series on http://www.thriftyandgreen.com. The kids and I spent a fabulous afternoon catching frogs and tadpoles and learning about the marsh. It was a super way to reinforce primary lessons about the concepts of habitat conservation, species preservation and ecosystems as a whole.
Strawberry Beds and Buttercup Weeds May 20, 2011
Strawberry flowers are blooming. It fills me with hope for a summer of bounty. It’s also a call to action!
Our house came complete with the most deliciously sweet strawberries. Truly. It also came complete with buttercup. For those of you who don’t know, buttercup is an incredibly invasive weed that makes pretty little yellow flowers, is almost indestructible and mildly poisonous. As an aside, in our first garden years ago, I planted buttercup on purpose after finding it in our front garden and thinking that the yellow flowers would add colour to the back. I should write and apologize to the current owners of that home. Regardless, we’ve been here almost a year now, and for that time, the strawberries and the buttercup have shared a bed. No more.
We’ve started anew, so to speak, creating a new strawberry bed and hoping for increased yields with all that root space to themselves. Strawberries require healthy soil and lots of light. They love the sun and heat, and also enjoy being planted near onions. Strawberries shouldn’t be planted where previous strawberry beds have been, as rotten roots left decomposing can pass disease to the productive plants.
Since we’ve no shortage of strawberry, I’ve actually created a proper bed in the back (following the steps outlined below) and also transplanted some plants to the front yard – where they occupy a sunny patch in our newly converted grass-free yard. As with all plants, it’s nice to try them in a few places and see where they thrive.
Here are the steps taken to create a “proper” strawberry bed:
Step 1: Remove Weeds – in our case, Buttercup
Tedious work! I dug deep and loosed the roots, separating the strawberries from the darker buttercup roots. Buttercup is bagged and sent to the city green waste – no way that horrible little weed is setting root in my compost.
Step 2: Separate Runners
Strawberry runners are clipped and separated from the main plant. Strawberry plants are generally productive for about five years. With plants younger than this, remove the runners to send the energy towards fruit production instead of reproduction. With older plants in need of replacing, allow the runner to take root, then remove the parent plant. In our case, we opted for a combination of the two and saved some mature plants, while also setting up for a good yield next year with younger plants. If you’re starting from scratch, save the trip to the garden store and instead opt for a friend’s clipped runners.
Step 3: Build Raised beds
Raised beds provide an optimal growing environment. To maximize strawberry yield, set a raised bed in a hot, sunny location and fill with garden soil.
Step 4: Plant
We follow biodynamic gardening principles which means – among other things – that plants are grown on mounds, spaced more closely than traditional gardening methods and are planted in combination with beneficial companions. Our strawberry bed has a lovely chive plant and will have a few daffodils near the edges when I get there. Plants are spaced about 1 ft apart, in staggered (offset) spacing.
Step 5: Pinch flowers – sad I know!
The first year of plant’s its flowers should be removed so as to divert all the energy towards plant growth and health, instead of fruit production. Which means, no fruit year one. But lots of really fabulous fruit thereafter. Since our strawberries patch is a combination of mature plants being transplanted and new runners, I’ve pinched the flowers on half the plants and am letting the other half produce. Also, if I pinched all the flowers my kids would think I was a complete failure when they had no strawberries this summer, and I couldn’t have that.
All in all, strawberries are a relatively simple fruit to care for and the reward is oh-so-sweet. Here’s hoping the blasted buttercup can be kept at bay!