Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

By Mary Lowther

I can grow tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in my shady garden, but strawberries have never amounted to much, not that that has ever stopped me from trying.

Because our new plot down the road gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs as they do in my back yard. I’ve tried hanging baskets of berry plants but they dried up. David came home with a thrift store find of a large pottery urn with ledges you can fill with soil so the pot becomes surrounded with berries, like in the glossy pictures in magazines. “Look honey!” he announced, “this oughta do the trick eh?” I put it on a pedestal and watered it diligently but wood bugs killed off every last seedling.

But now I have land across the street that is in full sun most of the time, and one who has taught her kids to never give up must walk the walk, so when my neighbour Dr. Bernhardt offered to sell me some of her extra strawberry plants and then plant them for me in the lovely bed David has prepared, I couldn’t refuse. She dug them into three rows, staggering them one foot apart, covering only the roots to the crown, keeping the stem and leaves above ground. She tamped the ground down around the roots to ensure good contact with the soil and I prayed to the rain goddess so I wouldn’t have to lay soaker hoses down just yet.

This soil, like the rest of the garden, consists of robust compost with minerals added and composted chicken manure. Once the strawberries put out a few leaves I’ll scratch in Solomon’s organic fertilizer at the rate of two litres per hundred square feet and spray on compost tea. I’ll lay down the hoses and a mulch of leaves to keep the berries off the soil where they could rot and will cover the whole bed with netting or Reemay to keep birds out, once they start fruiting.

After the berries have fruited I’ll decide how to allow them to grow on. Some gardeners mow the whole bed down and cover that with leaves or other mulch; some cut off all the runners except where they want new plants to develop, then dig out the older plants; others cut down the whole row of older plants and just allow a row of sprouts to remain between the previous rows, cutting out any other runners. I think I’ll let all my runners develop into seedlings and see how things look next spring.

Since many gardeners south of the Malahat noticed that their strawberry plants became disease ridden after the first year, they now buy new transplants every year and put them into a different bed. Either Dr. Bernhardt’s plants haven’t been infected or they’re resistant because she gets bumper crops every year and yet has extras to sell. Maybe she just has that magic touch. I’m counting on that since she’s planted ours.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

North Cowichan has heated exchange over timelines of its official community plan review. (File photo)
North Cowichan’s OCP review divides council

Tight timelines leads to heated debate

Matt Ellison was a star with the Kerry Park Islanders before embarking on a pro career that included stops in the NHL and KHL. (Submitted)
Ex-NHLers to highlight Kerry Park-Peninsula alumni games

Matt Ellison and Kyle Greentree commit to suit up in August

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

Most Read