Despite the rainy weather that seems to never want to go away, it is still officially strawberry season in our area. My youngest daughter Mia and I ventured out to Rosie’s Berries last night that is located just north of Otis, at 1066N CR-1150W, in Michigan City. There you will find huge fields of strawberries eagerly waiting to be picked.
They operate a u-pick option, which for anyone unfamiliar, this is where you are given a container and go out into the field yourself and pick the berries that you want. If you only want large berries or only small, this is the way to go, because you only pay for what you pick. We managed to pick around 10 pounds in about a half hour time and paid under $20. In my eyes is that is quite the bargain.
I’ve always been a fan of Rosie’s as they operate a simple farm out of a small pole barn. Even better is that last I checked, they were a no spray location as well. They also offer a ready pick option where you can drive up and purchase already picked berries.
We planted a small section of strawberries at home this year, but it will be years before the patch completely fills in to produce the amount of strawberries we tend to go through. I was told that the gentleman that owned our farm prior, Mr. Alred, was able to pay for his children’s college education by selling strawberries he grew and picked in the backyard — which explains why we have so many wild strawberries growing in our woods.
If you want to grow your own strawberries, it is best to start with started plants as opposed to trying to grow them from seed, unless you have an amazing amount of patience. Many nurseries and stores will sell strawberry crowns as they are called in bundles or as individual plants. When you plant your strawberries, it is important to dig your hole deep enough so that the roots have enough room to be planted straight down into the ground. Resist the urge to make a shallow hole and pushing the roots into a J, which would be at the side of the plant. Strawberries tend not to grow well in that position.
The crown, which is the part where the leaves and stems emerge from the base, needs to be planted just slightly above the ground. Try not to plant them too deep, or too much above the ground.
As your strawberries grow, they will produce what is known as runners, which are new plants formed from a stem off the mother plant. Once those have roots, you can clip the stem that attaches to the mother plant and transplant the new plant to a place of your liking. If you leave the runners attached, they will pull energy from your plant, resulting in smaller strawberries.
Before you know it, you too will have a strawberry patch. Be sure to keep it well weeded and your strawberries will easily flourish for years to come.
Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.