|One day's harvest, notice only some of the berries are fully ripe.|
One thing I have learned about growing strawberries is that you actually should pick the berries the day before they are perfect. I have found that if I leave a not-quite-ripe berry on the plant and come back the next morning it will be perfectly ripe... and have a HUGE hole through it where a slug beat me to the harvest. I don't know how, but the slugs have a nose for when a berry has reached its peak of perfection and I just can't seem to beat them. Instead I pick the berries just less than ripe, in the end this serves me well since a perfectly ripe berry will turn to sweet mush after being frozen. Also strawberry jam made with all-ripe berries is almost too sweet, less ripe berries tend to make a more flavorful and less sweet jam. I'm not saying that I pick them while they're still green; they are red, but a light red rather than the darker rich red of a fully ripe berry. Also, if berries have over-ripened, been chomped by something, or have mold on them; remove them and dispose of in compost. Berries shouldn't be left on the plant to go bad, they will grow mold and that will spread to the new berries still forming. Remove any damaged fruits as you do your harvesting and toss into a bucket for composting.
|Strawberry patch viewed from the gate, they are slowly invading the empty lot next door.|
-Strawberries will spread, keep runners in check to avoid being overrun.
-Keep bed clean to avoid the most common issues with strawberries: slugs and molds.
-Slug bait and harvest early if slugs are a problem
-Mulch beds with something that won't biodegrade to protect roots and fruits without being shelter for pests; black plastic, pebbles, lava rock.
-Take a Tylenol and keep on picking because by next May you will really be wishing you'd frozen more of these fabulous fruits.