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…
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.
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. 🙂
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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.
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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How was your growing season? Was it successful? Do you wish you could have done something differently? We’re here to help with our printable Garden Assessment Form.
Printable Garden Assessment Form
Now that the growing season is over, take a few minutes to assess the success of your garden. Use our printable Garden Assessment Form to analyze and review your garden, so that next year turns out even better. Just click on the link below to print our garden assessment form:
Be sure to think about all of the things that worked well this year:
Size of garden
Garden layout and paths
Types of plants: Vegetables and flowers
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Was your garden too small, to big, or just the right size?
Would you like to change the layout of your garden?
Which plants grew the best?
Which vegetables and flowers did you enjoy most?
Did you have too many of one type of plant, or not enough of another?
Now it’s time to fill out the Garden Assessment Form.
What worked well during this growing season?
Start by thinking about the successful part of your garden. Think about:
What worked really well?
Are there things you would keep the same?
Jot down your top items that made your garden a success. These are the items you will want to repeat again next year. There were several things that went well for us:
Giant Zinnias: These are one of our favorite flowers to grow. This year they were colorful and plentiful. We opted to grow red, orange and yellow colors. This was perfect for a summer vase, as well as fall.
Cherry Tomatoes: Two plants were plenty for our family. There were enough to share with our friends, too. We trimmed the tops of the plants early in the season, which allowed the plants to fill out and grow strong.
Basil: This year we planted 8 basil plants. We kept the basil trimmed, and there was plenty all season. It was wonderful to have fresh-cut basil available for our summer dinner meals.
Marigolds: Yellow and orange marigolds are a tradition in our garden because they seem to keep the bunnies away. We prefer the flat-petal variety, called Durango Marigolds, which are a little different that the standard marigolds.
Sunflowers: We love sunflowers. The 36” low height works best in our garden. Our neighbor loves sunflowers so we planted them on the edge where she can see them, too. Planting 10-12 from seed worked best.
Lettuce: Our lettuce grew very well this year. We bought 2 six-packs of lettuce from our local garden center, which proved to be easier than growing it from seed.
Herb Container: In addition to growing basil in the garden, we opted to plant basil, rosemary and chives in a container. We snipped herbs from our container throughout the season. Once the first frost arrived, we brought the container indoors and continued to have a fresh supply of herbs.
Geraniums in window boxes: Although we prefer to have a variety of plants in our window boxes, we tend to regret this decision when the heat arrives in July. This year we opted for simple geraniums, which lasted from May to October. They were very forgiving when we didn’t water them, and are the perfect plant for a window box if you plan to be on vacation for a week or two and cannot water them. Geraniums come in many colors: Hot pink, light pink, red, salmon, white, and light purple. Red ones look great from Memorial Day right into early fall. Pictured below are our hot pink geraniums:
What didn’t work in your garden this year?
Next, it’s time to think about things that just didn’t work:
Did you have enough plants?
Were certain crops a bust this year?
Do you wish you had more flowers or vegetables?
Were there too many weeds?
Write down the things that went wrong, so that next year you can make some changes. Here’s what we need to fix for next year:
Peppers: We had too many pepper plants: 24 to be exact. There were 4 varieties, with 6 plants of each variety. For some reason, none of our pepper plants grew very well this year. Next year, we’re planning to grow just 6 jalapeno pepper plants.
Acorn squash: This was our first time growing acorn squash. We were pleased to have three squash, but they were very small and took up a lot of garden space. We will omit acorn squash next year.
Cucumbers: We were pleased that our cucumbers were grown from seed. Initially, the plants looked great, but a week of non-stop rain washed out our crop this year. Next year, we will consider using lattice for the cucumbers to climb, and mound the plants again when planting.
Potatoes: This was another first-time crop for us. Potatoes require less water than other plants. It was difficult not to water the potatoes since they were in our main garden. We will try growing potatoes again next year, but in a container. That way, it’s easier to trim the tops during the season, and we can have more control over the water supply.
Things to do next time
Lastly, write down a few things you want to do next year. By documenting your thoughts now, it will make it much easier for next year. Here are the changes we will make:
Grow more extra-large flowers: Consider giant spider chyrsanthemums or 18 large zinnia plants instead of 8.
Grow more cut flowers: Research flower types over the winter. Look for cut flowers that would look good on a dining room table.
Continue growing zucchini: Limit to 3-4 zucchini plants, and remember to plant in full sun.
Rotate garden crops: Research efficient planting methods; Change location of cherry tomato plants
Shop for blueberry bush netting: Our one blueberry bush is quite large. The netting no longer fits over the entire bush. Shop early for white cheese cloth netting.
Buy citronella plants: These plants keep mosquitoes away. Consider having one in the garden, another one on the patio, and a third one on the deck. Instead of spraying bug spray on skin, simply cut a piece of the plant, and brush it on your clothes. It smells like citronella candles, and is a more natural way to repel mosquitos.
By taking a few notes now, you’ll have time to plan over the winter. In addition, your garden will be even better next year. Happy gardening!
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Spring is such a busy time of year, but there’s always time to cut some flowers from the yard. Fresh flowers are a great way to bring the outdoors inside. Let’s take a look at some of the arrangements we’ve enjoyed in our home this spring.
Bright Yellow Tulips in a Vase
These bright yellow tulips are just so pleasant to look at every day. They are especially cheerful on a gloomy, rainy day.
Lilacs in a Glass Vase
Lilacs are blooming, and their scent is very strong this year. We cut ours right before a big rainstorm. We just love the purple color of these lilacs.
Purple Lilacs in Small Green Pitcher
Just a small sprig of lilacs in the bathroom brings a fresh clean scent to the room. We love the look of flowers in a glass pitcher.
Spring Floral Arrangement from Your Local Florist
If you need a quick way to brighten up a room, you can also swing by your local florist for a fresh floral arrangement. This mix of salmon roses and pink daisies lasted two weeks on our dining room table.
Join Us to See More Pictures and Floral Ideas
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Did you ever plant pansies, only to find out a snowstorm is on the way? We’re here to tell you what happened when we planted our pansies, and then a surprise snowstorm occurred overnight. Can you guess the outcome?
Planting pansies early
Pansies are known for their hardiness. People usually plant them in early spring, knowing that they can survive colder temperatures. Here are the pansies we planted. Aren’t these orange pansies beautiful?
We also planted yellow ones in a pretty planter stand that was crafted out of wood.
And then it snowed
On April 19th, we awoke to an unexpected snow-covered yard. It was so beautiful, until sheer panic set in when I realized my pansies were outside. Some of them were under a covered porch, while others were in containers unprotected from the elements. And then there were the ones that I planted directly in the window boxes of our shed. My heart sank.
According to the news reports, the rain changed over to sleet around midnight. It was followed by about an inch of snow. So when I looked at the pansies around 7:00 a.m. they were covered in snow. I hustled to lug the containers into the house, hoping that they weren’t outside too long. Within an hour, the snow melted, and after another hour things were looking optimistic.
By the end of the day, I knew the yellow and orange pansies would be fine. As for the pansies out in the window boxes, I wasn’t able to bring those indoors. I thought about covering the plants with a plastic bag or pillow case, but instead I just let Mother Nature take her course. What was the result? They were fine! We were so thrilled that all of the pansies survived.
Pansies can survive cold temperatures slightly under 32 degrees. They can even survive a light sleet and snow storm. In fact, the ice may have acted as an insulation to protect the flowers.
Going forward, we plan to keep an eye on the daily forecast, so that we can take necessary precautions. Anything is possible here in New England. So if a larger snowstorm is headed your way, be sure to bring your pansies indoors.