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48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Thanks for all your help!

Finally have it done for the most part. Still need another dozen paper clips and to build the racks for them, but the plants are in. Was a lot more learning, work, time and money than I was expecting when I first came up with the idea.

After 4 days of sitting mostly full of mix and full of water, the mix was damp but not up to wet or moist. I did end up pulling the mix I put in dry at first and hydrated it in a wheel barrow with a shovel. Was kind of counter intuitive to put in the fertilizer strip.... just seemed like tooooooo much. After a lot of reading I went with 2 cups of really low NPK rose fertilizer mixed with a loose 1.5 quarts of vermicast.

Would post a pic, but there isn't much to look at.... some black plastic mulch stretched over some totes. Half of them are bare root Albions so next to nothing is really showing and the other half are plants out of last years window box failure. Picked the plants which had the best single crowns. Those were fun to get through the little "X"s in the black plastic!

Will post a pic or two when the start showing some decent signs of life, assuming I didn't botch the whole project too badly.

One thing that amazed me about the last years window boxes (3 1/2' long, I think) was how very root bound the 6 plants were.... literally one massive, tangled up root structure the size and shape of the box with a little soil mixed in. No wonder the things stalled out half way through the season.

Again, thanks for all your help!
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Put the Albion bare root crowns in Sunday morning after a 3 hour soak in warm water and Tuesday morning about half are showing signs of life! Not a total failure yet! (They still looked dead when I pulled them out of the water.)
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Finally got the racks built had some time to deal with some images:

Transplants of the unknown variety I have went in well.
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The new Albion bare root crowns are coming to life and poking their heads out.
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Not a First Class Ticket on the Fail Train yet.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Albions are doing alright.
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This is encouraging.
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6 Extra plants waiting to be picked up (or already forgotten about)
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Will try again with the images. (Short edit time here is not so idjit conducive.)

Albions are doing alright:
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This is encouraging.
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6 Extra plants waiting to be picked up (or already forgotten about)
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

I didn't get around to buying Albion strawberries, so I will be looking forward to your progress reports and flavor review :-()
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

(Pretty sure they will taste like every other strawberry to me..... one little bit and by first reaction will be "Why did I try these again.".)

Albions each have 2 or 3 leaf stems and are not even 4" tall and most of them are pushing out 2 or 3 buds! Am amazed by it! They have been in Mel's mix in SIPs for just 18 days. Not sure if it the mix, the SIPs or what, but tiny little plants with barely any foliage pushing out buds!

Whole lot of foliage, buds and blossoms on the unknown strain of 1, 2 and 3 year old plants. They are only 18 days into their new home as well.

Even the unknowns in the 2 liter SIPs are taking off and loaded with buds. If they don't get picked up, am going to leave them in the 2 liter SIPs just to see what happens. They will stall out mid summer and probably end up just as root bound as the window boxes I over crowded last year.

My GUESS is that the right fert in Mel's mix in the containers has the soil temp up enough that they think it is later in the year that it really is.

The window boxes were amusing to take apart. I was lifting on giant root mass out of the box and having at them with s ginsu knife to separate the plants out. Some of those plants went into a bed and are doing well. Luckily I was able to pawn off two of the boxes to folks at work so I wouldn't have to deal with them.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Albions are still 4" or less but have over a dozen blossoms flowering and a lot of buds still growing. Almpst kind of looks wrong. Plants that small and this young shouldn't be pushing that many blooms. Guess the flush of berries will yield small fruit.

The Unknown strain are thriving, blossoms and buds all over the place with a whole lot of foliage.

SIPs, Mel's mix with a center strip of 2 cups of low value rose fertilizer mixed with vermicast definitely seems to be the way to go. The plants in the SIPs are well ahead of the 50 or so plants I have in the ground.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Have some happy plants!

The Albions are nigh a month old at this point. This just doesn't seem right to me.
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Unknowns are doing well too.
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The 6 "Oh, I'll be by to pic them up" in 2 liter SIPs are doing okay. Soon to be root bound I bet.
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Reinforcements are doing well too. Am pretty sure I could have dense-packed theses a little tighter if I tried harder.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Talk about messing up in reverse!

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I can't get a good angle to actually show the density of blossoms and buds.

SIP's are definitely working well. (Almost makes me wonder if planting in the ground is actually worth the effort.)
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Yay! Looking great! :clap:

I think you will find that the SIP's will produce their berries earlier, possibly bigger and more numerous, but the in-ground ones will also produce at a different schedule so you might have continuous harvest for an extended period.

...at least that's been my experience with strawberries planted all over my garden in different micro-climates. :wink:
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Thanks. I did listen to everyone and learn even if I took the hard path with it.

That sounds like a good strategy with the varying micro-climets. Have somewhere around 100 plants going, so it shouldn't turn out all bad. Have been thinking about a wattle raised bed + Hugelkultur. Might be a good place to transplant some of this years runners.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

So, a month into the plants going into the SIPs, I have some small berries forming on both the Albions on the unknown strain I had, and I have more blossoms than before!
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Deer came to visit and snack. They seem to like young hosta and tulips too.

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Everything else seem to be going okay.

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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Oh dear.... :P

...ok ok couldn't resist...

I will go with Image Image Image

Not quite as bad as this, I guess, though I have this in my repertoire
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Had it happen last year too, but it wasn't nearly as bad, only 3 or four plants.

Is definitely better than lions and tiger and bears!
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Will you be protecting your strawberries?

I need to put up netting covers. The robins and catbirds are already starting to steal berries that are not quite ripe. :evil:
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

You have berries which are not quiet ripe already!?!?!?! (... , and here I thought I was doing really well.)

Didn't have to do the netting and deer fence last year and I would like to keep things as minimal as possible, and don't really have resource to deal with it either. (Last week I discovered that it wasn't just a minor floor pan issue in my 92 GTI, and it is way beyond my welding and fabrication skill level. Current priority is prepping an 89 jetta to take the entire electrical system, power train and suspension out of my GTI. Good thing these cars are like legos!)
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Haven't had a chance to take pics nor update much. Plants recovered from the one occurrence of deer snacking surprising well. The containers of unkonws the deer passed up and turned into little jungles. Am really convinced that containers are the way to go. The containers are well out producing the plants I have in the ground.

Berry-wise the albions are not as nasty as most strawberries. Pretty firm and taste like fruit, not that syrup-ie blast of sicky sweet mush. Bare root clusters I planted in early April produced 4-6 nickle to quarter sized berries each in the second week of June. Pretty happy with them.

The Unknowns that I have been propagating the past few years have either crossed with the local wild berries or are de-evolving back to the stains which made the hybrid. Have 24 plants in sips and another 50 in the ground and am getting 3 distinct berry types from them (and miles of runners).

The runners actually make sense to me since the all of the Unknowns were propagated form maybe 6 plants by rooting runners. The more runners those original plants put out, the more they perpetuated themselves forward, so I now have plants that throw out lots of runners.

Berries form the unknowns:
1) half dollar sized, multiple shoulders and tips, mushy and taste like a mix of high fructose corn syrup and pre-sweetened koolaid
2) quarter sized, hints of multiple shoulders and tips but mostly uniform, sort of mushy and too over sweet
3) dime sized, uniform shape, almost round, firm not so sweet and fruity (almost edible).

Would really love to have the time to play with propagating these - looks like a fun puzzle to figure out.

Thinking about another 4 containers with Evie2's for next year.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

I really like the way you have them set up on those really nice stands that no doubt you made yourself. :D
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Thanks. PT 2x4's and decking screws. Those stands are all about putting berries at about hand height for a 74 year old - no bending required.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Am loosing a lot of berries on the albions... going soft before fully ripe. Also have some dark brown / grey fuzzies on the berries and the stems.... Seeing if cinnamon helps.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

I noticed some of my (not Albion) varieties doing this when the berry truss is protected from birds and chipmunks with clear clamshells during heatwave. I think they don't like it too hot./humid. You may be having a flip-side effect of the raised black containers with black plastic mulch.

Maybe put some straw on top of the plastic mulch or put up a shade cloth over the setup? Shading just the containers?

Try putting up some beach/patio umbrellas over one or two planters and see if that helps before launching into an entire project.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Seems reasonable enough - simple, easy fix and see what happens.

Don't thing it would be too hard to put a cloth skirt around the group of 4 containers. Straw on top, why not. Can raid the garden for bleached out, clean grass clippings.

It is only an issue with the albions. Not sure if the dark brown / grey fuzzies are the cause of the berries going soft early or the result of something else affecting the berries and plants and the dark brown / grey fuzzies are just there to clean up all the free food.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Fist flush was pretty good. Nigh 2 gallons of berries over a couple of weeks, and I have some more blossoms popping.

The 13" x 19" soil surface is just a bit small for 6 one-year-old plants. Have a tangled mess of leaf stalks and runners in the unknowns, even with the catapillar damage. Ended up damaging the leaf stalks trying to pick the berries. The bare root clusters albions haven't crowded themselves up at all yet.

Did some digging around in a few of the containers as I was clearing the dead leaves, damaged leaf stalks and trimming off the runners. Was really happy to find many 2"-3" worms in the containers. They were probably from eggs in the vermicast. Guessing going heavy on the compost which was a little mulchy was a good idea. Was worried about it compacting down too much, but it will feed the worms and they with keep the soil loose enough.

Also confirmed that I need to get some shade around the containers, the soil was surprisingly warm to the touch. Knew I should have hit the containers with a light colored Krylon fusion BEFORE I planted them.

Sorry, no time to do the picture thing.

Next year it will definitely be 4 plants per container
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Guessing a deer came by last night and topped almost all of the unknowns and half the albions, I have containers with bunches of green stems sticking up in them. Pretty sure I can forget about the second flush on the unknowns and and what would have become of the blossoms on the albions.

Seriously thinking about just swapping the plants out since I have more than enough younger plants in the ground for the unknowns. Not so lucky with the albions. Only have 3 in the ground from the bare root clusters I purchased and anouther 6 in 2 liter sips I started from runners.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Can't you do what rainbowgardener has described in the past? Put up 4 fence posts, wrap with deer fencing/netting, the twist tie the top closed. She said raccoons would unite the twist tie, but deer have no opposable thumbs. :wink:
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

I think it just might be a wee bit too late for preventive measures!

Think I will dissect one of the completely leafless boxes to see what is going on in there.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Managed to start nearly a dozen Albions form runners and into 2 liter SIPs. Those are now blossoming, 3 or 4 blossoms each. Pretty surprising to me.

Over all, the Albions did okay but seem to be sort of fragile plants. Ended up with a lot of "zombie berries" and stems dying off for no apparent reason. My GUESS is the stems are fragile, especially the runner stems.

On the "zombie berries" .... could have been from lack of water, but as far as I know, my SIPs never went dry. Don't think is was from lack of food either. I had too much new growth going on. Next most likely culprit would be soil temp, I guess.

Overall, the Albions were not the perpetual stream of strawberries I was hoping for, but they were not a failure either. Will be replanting some next year. Will probably be looking at another day neutral strain as well.

Deer liked the the Unknowns I had and the Japanese beetles stayed way from them. Conversely, the deer left the Albions alone, but I had Japanese beetles problems I could not devote enough time to all the time. The beetle problem was not just placement, but the deer could have given up on the strawberries before they got to the Albions, The last SIP of the Unknowns before the Albions was barely touched by the deer.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Have another round of blossoms on the Albions which surprised me. With less heat and me paying more attention to refilling the SIPs, they may turn into something.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Round 2 of the Albions are now prodcuing berries.... sort of makes me laugh.

Albions put out very few runners and they were hard to get to take roots in little pots. Did manage to get some though and transplanted them into 2 liters SIPs. Now they are growing berries and still pushing a few blossoms.

Foliage on the plants looks a bit big for 2 litter SIPs, and I am sure they will eventually get root bound, but it is clear that you could start with bare root plants and get at least one round of berries from healthy in 2 liter SIPs. This might be a way of speeding things up in the spring with new bare root plants.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

I tried to keep some kind of running update on this because it was the kind of thing I would have like to have found BEFORE I started the project...

End Result : Deer-vastaion.

Pretty much no significant harvest after the first early summer flush.

Things I am sure of:
  • Deer fence will be manditory for next year.
  • Japanese Beetle defense with be needed next year.
  • 6 plants isn't too crouded for containers I built.
  • The fertilizer strip, mix etc for the SIP's worked out well, to the point that it allow the plants to regrow after losing all their leaves several times. They Rebounded well enough to push both some blossoms and runner during each regrowth period.
Things I am not so sure of:
  • Screening the containers from direct sunlight may help out with the mid season halting I saw. Am assuming the soil temps became too high for the plants to be comfortable productive. This may also help out with decreasing the amount of zombie strawberries I ended up with on the albions mid season
  • Not sure if albions were the right choice for my location. The berries were good though, firm, solid and not sickly sweet. (I don't really like strawberries)
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Hmm... deer is one I don't have to worry about, so I didn't know that. Useful to know!
I hope you keep up with the progress. It will be interesting to find out what happens when you keep out the deer. I'm almost wondering if they would grow too much....?

I just saw a craigslist ad for used hoophouse hoops 14'wide x 7.5'high in ground, with 2 ground stakes per hoop, set for $15, free delivery for 50 hoop sets. Most of the time, this sort of ad wants you to take $1000 worth. Unusual to see the hoops sold individually within my budget.

I would only need/have room for 4 hoops if I were to get them... I really wanted to think about getting them, but I don't think any of the family vehicles can carry them. I always think I could carry things like that if I had a horse trailer... haha.

I could see using them as hoophouse/mostly passive greenhouse/coldframe/and netted bird excluder for the berries in the summer.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Home depot flat bed trucks.... $20 an hour + fuel and no mileage charge. Buy a 8' 2x4 and tell them it won't fit in your prius. Return the 2x4 after you drop off the truck.
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

Ooh gonna keep that in mind 8)
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Re: 48 Strawberries in 8 SIPs

You don't have to buy anything to rent a truck. However, if you want it on a weekend, you may have to reserve it.
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