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2014 Garden Plans: Bed 5 – Annual Strawberries

We haven’t had any fruit in the Demo Garden since we renovated a couple years ago, so it is going to be fun to have some strawberries again. What we are trying this year are two varieties of Day Neutral strawberries that are typically grown commercially as annuals. Plant, fruit, and remove all in one year. Now, most production systems recommend fall planting for a spring crop and any additional harvest is bonus. Obviously we didn’t do that, so we are trying an early spring planting with the intention of letting the plants fruit for as long as they want to until it gets too cold in the fall.

Bed 5 (2)We only have a small raised bed dedicated to this project, so despite the temptation to cram 4 varieties in, we opted for just two – ‘San Andreas’ and ‘Mara des Bois.’ Both are supposed to have good flavor for day neutrals (they are usually not so flavorful – think grocery store strawberries right now), and have some good disease resistance. A local grower had tried three other varieties last year, so we wanted to try a couple others. I’ll be growing a third variety (‘Albion’) at home, so I’ll be interested to see how they compare. Day neutrals typically don’t fruit well when the temperatures get hot, so the weather will impact our yields. Last year the local grower reported issues with fruit rots in mid-summer due to the rain. We just can’t win, no matter what!


Strawberry Crunch Muffins

I am so glad it is the beginning of Strawberry season.  Strawberries are so fun and delicious.  They are low in calories and are an excellent source of vitamin C.  This week’s recipe features this berry delicious fruit in a nutritious whole grain muffin.  Your family will not even know that they are eating something so good for them!

Makes: 12 muffins

1 cup of fat free plain or vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup fat free milk

2 eggs

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup low fat granola

2 tablespoons wheat germ

2 tablespoons oat bran

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line muffin pan with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine yogurt, applesauce, milk and eggs; blend well.

In medium bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, granola, wheat germ, oat bran, baking soda and salt.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until moistened.  Fold in strawberries.

Fill each muffin cup about three-fourths full.  Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown or until a wooden pick inserted into center come out clean.

Nutrition Information: 166 calories, 5 g protein, 34g carb, 3 g fiber, 2 g fat, 36 g chol, 108 pg folate, 2 mg iron, 459 sodium.

Friday PhotoEssay

This week has been something of a whirlwind, and with the garden at something of a standstill, thanks to the crazy weather this summer, I feel like not much has changed in the last week to show you. I did find a few things to share, though.

Isn’t this an interesting sight? The heat has definitely NOT been kind to our strawberry patch this summer. Between the leaf spot diseases (you can see some in this picture too), and the heat and drought (the berries don’t have irrigation, ugh!), the plants have thinned out quite a bit. You can imagine my surprise when I saw these berries yesterday! Apparently the marketing was somewhat accurate for these, because this fruit did set during late July when it was so hot. Of course, I had to eat it, and it was surprisingly good, considering the circumstances.

Can any of you smart gardeners out there tell me what this is, growing in the shade of our okra plants?

If you guessed potato, you would be right! Apparently, we didn’t quite find every potato when we dug them earlier this summer. There are a couple of sprouts coming up. I guess we’ll just leave them and see what happens. The shade from the okra is probably making this spot a little more hospitable than it might otherwise be.

The okra are starting to develop buds…slowly but surely. I was hoping these plants would hurry up and start flowering/producing, partly for the pictures, but also so I could do a post about harvesting okra. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to wait until the time is right.

This is a bitter melon that was growing in one of the plots at the Juniper Gardens Training Farm. I love the color! Unfortunately, at this stage, it is a little bit past the “tasty eating” point.

Do you see what I see? Let’s take a closer look!

Now do you see it? This little Praying Mantis was hanging out on one of the bell pepper plants. He eats other insects, so I wonder what he was finding to eat?

Have a great weekend!

Harvest Report

We had a modest harvest from the Family of 4 Garden today, and a whole lot of strawberries.

DON’T try this at home! This is 5.25 pounds of strawberries. If you stack them up like this for too long, you will end up with strawberry mush. I always seem to underestimate our little strawberry patch. For some reason, the first berries are small and not very nice. Then we get this huge onslaught of fruit. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised. I wish the berry size was better on this variety, ‘Eversweet’. It’s a nice enough variety, but there are much better varieties out there.

We harvested another head of the ‘Caraflex’ cabbage, as well as half a pound of lettuce from the Family of 4 Garden.

The lettuce is almost done, but there’s still a little bit. We harvested about 1/2 lb. of lettuce this week. We could also start harvesting the Swiss Chard soon, but we didn’t this week.

Family of 4 Harvest:

1/2 lb. lettuce @ $7.00/lb = $3.50

Weekly Total = $3.50

Year to Date = $85.02

Friday PhotoEssay

Well, it’s finally raining. I just wish it would keep raining. Luckily the radar looks like there’s more rain coming.

Our grafted tomatoes aren’t looking stupendous. I think they were just too small and then the potting mix wasn’t quite as nice as I usually use. They all need some fertilizer, but I don’t want to fertilize yet. I think we’ll have enough plants though, when all is said and done.

The transplanted lettuce in the Family of 4 Garden has pretty much doubled in size this week. We’ll probably pick a few leaves next week.

Our ‘Yukon Gem’ potatoes popped up between Wednesday morning and Thursday evening. Of course, they emerged from the soil just when the temperature is supposed to get close to freezing tonight. I think they’ll be fine, but we’ll see.

The peas are also growing by leaps and bounds. This picture was from Tuesday, and I think they’ve grown at least a couple inches since then. They are just barely starting to climb the trellis.

The pattern of strawberry flowers is predicting the pattern of fruit for us. Last week we just have a few big flowers, and this week (really just about 4 days later) there are lots and lots and lots of flowers. Looks like another good strawberry year!

Have a great weekend!