Category Archives: Fruit

Grow an Abundance of Strawberries this Summer!

strawberryLast year, I harvested this huge juicy strawberry! Can you see the quarter I used for scale? Crazy, right?! And it wasn’t the only one! Second to tomatoes, strawberries are the most abundant producers on my little urban farm. I grew 22 pounds of them last year!

barerootSince many of you are likely bringing home bare root strawberries from plant sales like these or will be buying strawberry starts in the near future, I wanted to remind you of some simple strawberry planting tips! They certainly worked for me!

strawberries2This post is all about planting tips for getting the biggest bang for your buck, including companion planting tips!

guttersMaybe this year you want to get creative with your strawberry planting! In this post, I’ll show you how you can build a gutter garden for your strawberries in under two hours!

 

Throwback Thursday: Planting Bare Root Espaliered Fruit Trees

10846397_809348549104076_8258578801055115700_nThree years ago, in February, I planted these trees and wrote this post about it. Now, they are one of the highlights of my mini-orchard. It’s time to get bare root trees like these in the ground and lucky for us northwest gardeners, Swanson’s Nursery* has an awesome 40% off bare root edibles sale going on right now!

coneWant to see how I got these trees off to a successful start, click here to read more and watch this video tutorial:

Want to learn even more about planting bare root? Check out this helpful article!

*For the record, I am not sponsored by Swanson’s nor am I getting any kick back for sharing the Swanson Nursery love. I just can’t resist this annual sale and want to keep you in the loop! Cheers!

Simple Tips for Success with Strawberries

The strawberries around my little urban farm are growing like gangbusters! I’ve harvested just under 15 pounds so far. It’s not really a surprise considering how I plant strawberries in every empty space around. They obviously spread like wild fire, making the best edible ground cover. I just can’t get enough of them! Today, I offer you a couple simple suggestions for growing strawberries with success!

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image (8)Select a Sunny Site: Like most edibles in your garden, there are a few fundamentals all berries need to thrive. Berries need access to full sun, which means at least six hours a day. Another very important element is good drainage. Most berry plants are sensitive to soils that remain wet for long periods of time. Planting them in a raised bed can be an easy solution for that. Consistent watering is also critical for big, plump strawberries!

berry1Variety Matters  There are three types of strawberries: June-bearers, which produce one big crop a year; Ever-bearers, which produce two crops, one in the summer and one later in the fall; and Day-neutrals, which produce small berries throughout the growing season. The thought of having a continuous harvest always had me choosing day-neutrals in the past, but once I planted a patch full of June-bearing strawberries and reaped a generous harvest of beautiful, ripe berries, I officially became a June-bearing strawberry convert. June-bearing strawberries, especially if you start with a large quantity of plants, will provide you with bigger fruit, a bigger yield, and a crop that has a large quantity of fruit ready at one time.

image (7)Go Big!  You have to be willing to plant an abundance of berry plants if a bountiful harvest is what you want. They don’t call it a berry patch for nothing! When I plant strawberries, I take advantage of plant sales, like Swanson’s bare root plant sale so I get a lot of bang for my buck. Also, consider using strawberries as a type of groundcover – tuck them into random unused spaces.

IMG_4138Planting Pointers:  Berries should be planted in the spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. If the soil is really wet, wait for a few consecutive dry days to dig that hole. A well-maintained strawberry patch will be productive for three to five years. Make sure when you plant them to keep the crown — the place where the foliage begins to grow — level with the soil. The top roots should be just below the soil surface and aiming downward to give them a good start.

Renovate! A June-bearing strawberry patch also benefits greatly from a pruning process called renovation, which should happen soon after your last harvest.

For a Q&A about strawberry patch renovation, click here.

 

Blue Ribbon Fig and Thyme Jam

ribbonOn Friday, the first one of the new school year, I found myself feeling a little run down. I ate lunch and checked the updates on my phone only to find the most exciting message, “Your fig and thyme jam took first place! Woohoo!!!” I bounded into the other room to share the news with my colleagues. It was just the kind of news I needed to boost my spirits and get me to the end of the day.

fig_jamAfter winning my blue ribbon last year, I didn’t know what to expect. I was open to the possibility that it might not happen again and at the same time hopeful that I would end up with another blue ribbon under my belt. I am beyond thrilled that I did. I am beaming as I write this.

Since I can’t let y’all taste the winning jam, I wanted to at least share the recipe. It was a winner even before it won a ribbon.

Fig and Thyme Jam

Adapted from So Easy To Preserve
(a highly recommended preservation cookbook of safe and tested recipes)

Makes about 5 pints

About 5 pounds fresh figs (~ 2 qts. chopped)
3/4 cup water
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Prepare the Figs:

Rinse the figs and place in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the figs and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain, stem and chop the figs.

Make the Jam:

In a large dutch oven or saucepan, add the figs, sugar, thyme and water. Slowly bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly until thick, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking. Check to see that the jam has reached the jelling point. (Click here for three ways to test if your jam is done.) Once it has reached that point, add the lemon juice and cook for a minute longer. Pour hot jam into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. *Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

* Follow these instructions for safe water bath canning.

Enjoy!

Click here for adorable label ideas!