Strawberries and rhubarb galore!

Oh yea-my June-bearing strawberries are ripening and the rhubarb is kicking it.  I love both of these perennials in the garden. They are easy and productive without much trouble and they come back year after year. They are also some of the first crops to produce which is great in June while we wait for the rest of the crops to come in.

Here are some strawberries we harvested during one picking session. There are tons on the plants this year as compared to last year when we got zero because of that super cold winter which almost killed them. I cover the strawberries with row cover after they flower but before the berries are red to keep the birds off them. Works like a charm. After the strawberries are finished I will take the row cover off them for the rest of the year. Sorry birds!

Here is the rhubarb we harvested. My variety is Victoria which is a very prolific green variety with a slight red blush instead of the red varieties that are available. There is no difference in taste with either red or green. Be sure to cut off the leaves which are poisonous. The leaves have high amounts of oxalic acid (the same as in spinach-only spinach has much lower safer amounts of oxalic acid). I cut it off about 1 inch below the leaf and at the ground level. The stalk is the part we eat. It is very tart so we need to add a good amount of sugar to sweeten it up when cooking.

So I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie! You mix up 3 cups strawberries with 3 cups rhubarb mixture with 1.5 cups sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a big bowl and put the mixture in an uncooked pie shell. Then I put a crust on top of the mixture.

Before I could get a picture of the whole pie after it came out of the oven, everyone got into it first. Yum! Juicy and sweet.


One of my fellow gardeners in the Las Vegas, NM area, Gene, asked me about strawberries and I thought what a good post it would make.

TYPES: Strawberries come in three types: June Bearing, Day Neutral and Everbearing.

June bearing strawberries: The most traditional berry that produces a single crop in early spring or June and are largest in size of the 3 types.  They produce for a 2-3 week period. It is the type I have. I got them from a friend who was thinning out her strawberry bed and I planted them 3 years ago so I’m not sure what variety but for sure they are June bearing type cause that’s when I harvest. Give them room cause they will take over areas. I’ve already let it spread out twice but I love strawberries so I don’t care. This winter I got hit hard with the extreme cold temperatures and lots about half but I’m sure they’ll come back.

Day Neutral strawberries: They produce continuously throughout the summer. They have smaller berries and fewer runners. These would be good for limited space.

Everbearing strawberries: Produce 2-3 crops per year-one in June, then late summer and again in fall. They also have smaller berries and fewer runners. These would also be good for limited space.

VARIETIES: You’ll have to do some research to learn more about these varieties listed here:

  • Early – Earlidawn, Catskill, Raritan
  • Midseason – Surecrop, Redcheif, Midway
  • Late – Guardian, Fletcher, Sparkle

PLANTING: With all strawberries, they like a soil with lots of compost so be sure to heavily amend your soil before planting the plants. Plant in full sun. Dig a hole that will accommodate the roots in the soil but be sure to keep the crown at or just above the ground level-otherwise it may rot. Plant about 18″ apart. Don’t worry if that seems like a lot of space, each plant will put out runners and baby plants from the runners and soon it will fill in.

Pick off any flowers the first year so the plant can put it’s energy into growing instead of making fruit.

Harvest the second and third year and then thin out, taking the original ‘mother plant’ leaving room for the babies. The babies will produce more fruit if you thin out as the original plants will slow down. So dig them out, start a new patch or give them to a friend. June bearing types put out a lot of runners and baby plants every year and must be thinned out for sure every 3 years.  Trim off the runners if they are running over your boundaries. I don’t know about the other types and how much they run.

PROTECTION: Now to keep the birds from eating them–I DON”T use that ‘bird’ netting as I got a small bird caught in one and it died and I felt awful so now I just cover the patch with row cover. I can water right through it and just pull it back to harvest. Much better. This is my third year so I will see how many I get what with the winter damage. Last year (second year) I got a ton and they were great!

For winter protection, some people put about 6 inches of straw over them after it freezes. I don’t bother, maybe I should have this past winter!