Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Great Strawberry Massacre

I'm not going to name names, but there are two very large, very naughty dogs in my home. Why are they naughty? Because they are plant killers. They have no empathy for their poor mom. Fighting drought, heat, winds, and evening sun trying to keep these struggling strawberries alive. Nope, all they see are squirrels to chase and neighbor dogs to taunt through the fence. It's shameful.

This is why the garden is fenced, my friends.

After observing the destruction in the strawberry patch, I knew it was time to transplant the survivors. I dug them up this morning, taking advantage of a warm but dreary day. I found a mere 11 plants healthy enough to move. I found a little spot in the garden next to my Egyptian Walking Onions well within the fenced and gated area. I added mushroom compost from Nitron Industries to each hole where I placed my strawberries, and top dressed the soil lightly.

As you probably recall, I'm an obsessive mulcher. I try to battle weeds and build soil by giving it plenty of good, decomposable materials. I was quite surprised to find some very happy and healthy herbs under my heavy layer of mulch when I prepped the new strawberry bed for planting.  These perennials will be transferred to a few different areas of the yard. The thyme will be divided and some of it used as a ground cover around a rose bush in the front yard, and the yard will be stuck in numerous areas to attract beneficals.

Creeping Thyme
Instead of tilling, I'm using a D-handle spading fork to loosen my soil. It's a bit slower than tilling of course, but it actually loosens the soil more deeply without harming the healthy soil environment I've been trying so hard to cultivate. As a reward for my effort, I saw numerous fat, healthy earthworms as I worked. Had I used the tiller, they likely would have been ripped to shreds. It's wonderful to see such an active soil environment in January!

Have you been playing in the dirt lately?

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