I've decided that strawberries are in our futures and I'll keep a raised bed going at all times. They haven't been very prolific in the beds for me, but I do have hope. Those that grew in straw bales last year produced well, but the straw bales didn't seem the way to go.
They will not be moved in winter, but will be bedded-down where they are, covered in straw and material. Since the garage experiment was a bust, keeping them where they grew just seems the correct method to try. I've read that second-year plants produce better. I've not gotten there, yet, so I hope that next year they come back even stronger.
This last weekend I had to flip-flop the hoops over the strawberry, lettuce and spinach beds. Since the first bed had the most plants, I moved it's hoop to the back, less full, bed. The low hoop was just too low and some of the strawberry leaves were getting caught in the netting.
Water was trapped there too, so the leaves looked sick. Beetles were able to find the leaves and now my leaves have been eaten-up. The Rose Chafer beetles are the main culprits here, but there are some little caterpillars there, too. They get fed to the chickens, who are now underfoot whenever they see me at this bed.
I foresee a problem with the low hoop next year so I'm going to have Steve just add fencing to make it a large hoop. The low hoop was originally made just for lettuce and spinach beds, but it needs to be more versatile than that. I guess 4 hoops of the same height will make placing them just easier.
The plants are really putting out runners now. I was beginning to think these plants were different than my last plants. They ran quickly. It may be the rain and overcast skies for months. Anyway, now they need pruning so I can get some fruit. I've had fruit since June, but they were only good for the chickens. They looked red, but they were small, squishy and had no taste at all. Too much water made a mess of them.
Last night while pruning, I found this perfect strawberry that was just about ready to eat. It was the biggest I've seen this year and it wasn't squishy. I thought one more day and it would be so great to taste....
So did something last night. It was gone when I hit the garden this morning.