March 31, 2011 at 8:29 a.m.
All the varieties of plants we are taking orders for are varieties that have been tested and proven for our area, including strawberries. This is not always the case when you buy plants elsewhere, especially through catalogs.
It is estimated that only about five percent of Minnesota strawberries are made into pies and preserves on a small commercial scale. Most of us either have our own patch, go to the farmer's market, or head for a pick-your-own-site.
Strawberries, as do most fruit, need a sunny area. The best soil is well-drained loam that is loose enough for the roots to establish a firm stand. The soil should have a pH level of between 5.8 and 6.5. The site is best with a southern slope, providing quick-drying soil and earlier maturing berries. I realize not everyone can have such a site but you should stay away from a low area not only for the drainage, but also to decrease the possibility of frost damage.
The Chisago County Master Gardeners are offering June bearing varieties. Annapolis is an early producer of large fruit that holds its size well through later harvests. Glooscap is a high yielding variety that is an early to mid-season bloomer that produces medium to large dark red fruit. Sparkle is a very popular variety among northern growers because it is so hardy. It is a very dependable producer.
Many of the gardeners who order through us have ordered before and are buying replacement plants. If you need help on planting, we will give you advice when you pick up your plants on distribution around May 7. We will also have instructions on how to raise strawberries and other bare root plants successfully.
Tuesday, April 5, Tom Dickhudt will share some history of native plants. All classes start at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center in North Branch. The cost of each class is $5 per person.
If you have any questions about ordering plants or our Spring Series of classes, you can call our office at 277-0151, or you can call me at 651-257-4496, and leave a message.