Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sunshine and Berries and Gardening in my Nightgown

(Page from my journal with one of my favorite quotes)

This morning when my granddaughter Sara was helping me in the garden, I realized that every child needs a patch or border of strawberries. Plant the berries in a sunny plot of ground, a large pot or half barrel, and amend the soil with compost. Top the berry patch with mulch or shredded bark.

I planted borders of Fraises des bois, which my grandchildren call "Faerie Berries," and I also planted a circle of 'Sequoia' and 'Fresca' strawberries under our Fuji apple tree. The strawberries are thriving and happy to shoulder in among the dianthus and nepeta 'Walker's Low.' Every morning for the past few weeks, I have picked a little basket of berries for breakfast and to give to Sara for snacks.

Last week, I scoured the neighborhood for pine needles and found some under my friend Kary's pine tree. I gathered a bag full, and, in the morning, tucked them around my plants. The needles discourage slugs and snails and elevate the berries above the soil to prevent rot. A thick mulch of pine needles excludes weeds, conserves moisture, and as they break down, they feed the soil.

For all of you readers who are planting your sunflowers now, let me give you a simple piece of advice. Instead of direct sowing your sunflowers, plant the seeds in a paper cup filled with good soil. Poke lots of drainage holes in the bottom of the cup, which will disintegrate after awhile. Set the cup wherever you want your sunflowers to grow; bury the cup with at least 2" protruding above the ground. The cup will protect your young plants from a multitude of hungry critters.

Good growing!



Unknown said...

What a wonderful post! I just received a dozen golden alpine berries yesterday from Papa Geno's. I was wondering how to mulch them and I fortunately have pine straw available. Do you start from seed or do you have any recommended nurseries for plant buying? I'm a first time gardener with 2 young girls and I have many of your books… I'm enjoying your blog, please keep the posts coming ^o^

debijeanm said...

Oh, it's great to see you again. I will remember your strawberry advice (if I ever get grandchildren.) I have the most wonderful flowers to plant tomorrow - apricot foxglove, miniature pentstemmon and a couple of flats assorted goodies. I'll think of you as I play!

Marcie said...

Sharon, I have wild strawberries everywhere in my fields, and pink-flowered alpine strawberries in my butterfly garden... Despite that, I've been planning to add a bed of strawberries too. I just have to settle on a variety and get started! This post offered great inspiration for the project!

I love the photo with the frog on a garden bench! *grin*

Storybook Woods said...

Well it is only now that the sun is coming out. It will be a late year for everything. Your garden looks to green and luscious. Clarice

Kimberly said...

Hi Sharon,

I've just recently discovered your blog and am enjoying it emensly. You have definately inspired me to start some container gardening with my little girl. We just moved and so are living in an apartment right now. I can't wait until we buy a house and I'm able to start a garden of my own. Thank you for your inspiration!

Happy gardening!