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Are you ready to go strawberry picking: tips you can't miss

Are you ready to go strawberry picking?

Strawberry season is here.  Are you ready to go strawberry picking?  If you are planning to pick your own strawberries, here are a few tips that will make your trip successful.

Strawberry Picking: Plan Ahead

Before you go picking, you’ll want to do the following things:

  • Call ahead to confirm berries are ready and to determine the picking hours.
  • Plan to go early in the morning.  If you can, go as soon as they open.  The saying “The early bird gets the worm” is true for strawberry picking.  You’ll have a better selection of strawberries, since the rows won’t be picked over.
  • Wear old clothes.  You might get a strawberry stain.  It usually comes out in the wash, but just in case…

strawberries in stainless colander

What to Bring When Picking Your Own Strawberries

  • Water: You’ll be thirsty after picking.
  • Cash: Many small farms do not have credit card machines.
  • Container: Some farms will supply a quart or a flat for you to pick into.  Others may allow you to bring your own container.  If we’re picking 6-7 pounds, we’ll use a flat.  If we’re going for a quick pick of just a few pounds, we like to use our stainless steel colander.  The farm where we pick at usually weighs our container and deducts the weight, so we don’t pay extra for the heavy colander.
  • A change of shoes: I like to wear flip flops.  I can take them off right after picking, and they are easy to hose off when I get home.  Other pickers like to wear socks and sneakers.  Whatever you decide, just bring a change of shoes.  If you step on a berry, you won’t want to track it into your car.
  • Clean up supplies:  Baby wipes or wet face cloth in plastic bag.  You will want to clean your fingers after picking.

Picking Your Own Strawberries: Tips for Picking in the Field

Usually, only certain rows are open.  Try to pick a row that no one has picked in yet.  It will make picking much faster.

Since you pay by the pound, you’ll want to pick clean.  That means, do not pick the stems.  Pick the strawberry where the stem meets the berry.  Leave the whole stem behind, so only the green leaves stay on the berry.

Be sure to look in between the strawberry bushes.  Many people simple pick along the edges where you can easily see the berries.  By looking in between the leaves, you’ll find lots of berries.

It’s okay to eat a few strawberries while you are there.  After all, you want to know if the berries are sweet and tasty.  Just don’t overdo it. 🙂

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links, which means that if you make a purchase, there is no extra cost to you, but Running A Household will receive a commission.

After you Finish Picking Strawberries

You’ll want to get the strawberries home and into the refrigerator.  I like to transfer mine into a colander, so that there a few holes to allow air in. I also cover the top of the colander loosely with plastic wrap.  This keeps anything from falling into the strawberries.

Are you ready to go strawberry picking?

Lastly, it’s important to have a strawberry huller.  This handy tool allows you to easily take the leaves off the berry.  You can certainly cut this part off with a knife, but you will take off too much of the strawberry.  With a Strawberry Huller, you will only take off the leaves, and keep the rest of the strawberry to eat.

Enjoy your strawberries!  There’s nothing quite like eating strawberries that were just picked.  🙂

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where to put seed starting trays

Starting Seeds Indoors – Tips You May Not Know

Thinking about planting your own vegetable and flower seeds? Starting seeds indoors can be tricky, yet rewarding. We’re here to help you with our tips for starting seeds indoors.

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links,
which means that if you make a purchase, there is no extra cost,
but Running A Household will receive a commission.

Tips for Starting Seeds Indoors

1. Start with clean seed trays

We prefer this Plant Start Dome Tray because it has everything you need: 72 cells to plant seeds, a tray and a greenhouse cover. This kit is great because you can reuse it each year. Just be sure to wash them before reusing.

2. Use the right soil

You’ll need a Seed Stating Potting Mix that is specially formulated for starting seeds. Here’s the one we use:

Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix

3. Pre-moisten your soil

I’ve always used brand new seed starting soil, but never pre-moistened it. This step is important and so easy to do. Grab a bowl, empty the soil, add water and mix until all of the soil is wet but not soaking. Next, fill your seed trays with the pre-moistened soil. Be sure to pack it in gently to remove any excess air.

4. Plant your seeds at the correct depth

Now it’s time to add your seeds and cover them with soil. Follow the instructions on the package. Make sure to plant the seeds at the correct depth and not too deep.

Some seeds, like snapdragons, actually need light to germinate. There’s no need to cover them with soil. Instead follow the directions on the package. My snapdragon seed package states, “Sow seed thinly and barely press into seed starting formula.”

5. Use vermiculite to absorb moisture

Consider lightly covering your seeds with Organic Vermiculite. This will keep the moisture in, but will also prevent excess moisture which can cause mold to grow.

6. Water your seeds lightly

Next you need to water your seeds. I’ve always done this with a mini-watering can. It’s actually better to use a spray bottle to gently mist your newly planted seeds. This keeps the seeds in place, and prevents you from overwatering.

I’ve also used a water bottle with an adjustable top. By pressing the top in far enough, I was able to get only a drop or two out at a time. Much butter than saturating your newly planted seeds with water from a watering can.

7. Consider using a dome to keep seeds moist

Using a dome to cover your newly planted seeds is optional. I’ve always used a dome to cover my newly planted seeds. The day I see the seeds sprout, I remove the dome. I have to admit, that I didn’t always catch it in time. Not to mention, I may have overwatered my plants because I was using a watering can. As a result, a white mold formed on some of my seedlings. I’m planning to try the greenhouse dome on my first batch of seedlings, and will leave it off on my second batch which require less moisture to germinate.

Now that your seeds are planted, let’s talk about taking care of them.

Taking care of seedlings: light, heat and water

Where should you put your seed trays?

You’ll want to check the instructions on the seed package. Many seed trays can simply be placed in a bright location with indirect sunlight until they sprout.

This year, I bought a small inexpensive rack to hold the seed trays. The rack shelves are the perfect size for my seed trays.

Steel Wire Rack (23.3L x 13.4W x 30H)

This wire rack has three shelves and will allow me to attach a grow light.

How much light do seeds need once they germinate?

Once your seeds have sprouted, they typically need about 12-16 hours of light. Many gardeners successfully place their seed trays in a sunny window. This method doesn’t work for me. Once my seeds sprout, they get very leggy trying to grow toward the sun.

This year, I bought a simple grow light and attached it to my new self. Grow lights work better than natural light because you can adjust the height so that the light is close to the seed tray. This allows the plants to grow straight and strong instead of tall and leggy.

Grow lights also allow for longer hours of light. In March, we typically have 11 hours of light. Seedlings need 12-16 hours of light per day. So even on cloudy/rainy days, the grow light provides the required bright light.

Water: Once the seeds have sprouted, you can consider watering them from the bottom. This method involves placing a reservoir or tray under the seed packs. As a result, the plants to establish deeper roots, and soak up the water from underneath.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Happy gardening! 🙂

Are you looking for a way to keep track of the seeds you purchased? Be sure to check out our free checklist:

flower and vegetable seed and plant checklist

Garden Shopping Checklist: Track your seed and plant purchases

Cut flowers sunflower zinnia

First Frost Warning: What it means for outdoor plants

Usually during the months of September and October, we will start to see warnings for the first frost of the season.  If you are a gardener you’ll want to keep an eye out for a first frost warning.  We’re here to help with some easy tips.

What does a frost warning mean?

Generally, a frost warning means that temperatures will dip down into the 30s, creating an icy frost on plants, grass and cars.

What happens during the first frost of the season?

  • Annuals will finish for the season.  Many plants will turn brown, including their leaves and flowers.
  • Vegetables in the garden will finish for the season.
  • Some hardy flowers, like mums, will survive the first frost.  They usually survive until a hard frost occurs, when temperatures dipping into the twenties.

One positive result of the first frost is that mosquitoes will not survive the cold temperatures.

What should you do to prepare for the first frost warning?

First frost warning Cut flowers sunflower zinnia

  • Cut your final batch of flowers and put them in a vase indoors.
  • Harvest all of your vegetables.  This includes tomatoes, corn, and cucumbers.
  • Gather any seeds from flowers you want to plant next year
  • Cover any plants which you want to keep growing.

What can you do to extend your growing season?

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links, which means that if you make a purchase, there is no extra cost, but Running A Household will receive a commission. Thank you for supporting our website.

If there will be just one or two nights with low temperatures expected, you may want to consider extending your growing season.

  • Bring potted plants indoors.
  • Cover up flowers and vegetables to protect them from the frost.  In the past, we have used sheets, lightweight blankets and even a tarp.  Large pieces of plastic and brown paper bags  will also work, if there isn’t any wind.
  • This Garden Quilt Cover will certainly keep your plants protected from frost. It’s large size makes it easy to cover multiple plants.
  • Don’t have any covers?  Some gardeners have used water as an insulator.  How does it work?  You can sprinkle water on your garden later in the day.  As long as there isn’t too much sun or wind, the water will stay on the plant leaves and freeze overnight, acting as insulation.  It’s certainly worth a try if you don’t have any other options. Generally this method works when temperatures are right around the freezing mark of 32 degrees or slightly below.

Good luck preparing for the first frost.

You may also find these articles helpful:

Things to plant this fall

It’s Time to Put Down Step 4 Fertilizer

When Should You Plant Grass Seed?