Last spring, I had hubby make me up a bunch of nice round beds in the front yard, to plant herbs and flowers in. Then I got enthusiastic, and ordered 100 strawberry plants – 50 June bearing and 50 everbearing. I had planned to build raised beds for them, but did not get around to it in time, so they wound up taking over my herb gardens. Then, Hubby kindly dug me another herb bed this year, but I saw some strawberry plants on sale this spring, and…you get the picture. Someday I’ll have a herb garden, though, I swear!
The June bearing berries had a great crop, but unfortunately a lot of them rotted on the plants, as I was in the hospital and then slightly distracted with the newborn and C-section recovery, and we just had our hands full. We did pick several large containers, though, and get them into the freezer for future smoothies. The everbearing plants have also been doing well, with great, big, sweet berries. I thought the everbearing plants would never really bear enough at one time to bother with making preserves or digging out the vacuum sealer, but I was wrong. A couple of days ago, I picked enough berries to put 8 cups in the freezer, with plenty left over for us to eat fresh. And, there were still a ton of nearly-ripe berries still on the plants that we’ll probably have to pick tomorrow or so.
We freeze the strawberries in 2-cup containers, as that’s the amount I use to make a batch of smoothies. I will also freeze some (chopped smaller, mind you) in 2.5 cup containers, as I have a fruit coffee cake recipe that uses that amount. It is much easier to freeze the berries in appropriately-sized packets in the first place. Martha Stewart types will tell you to freeze them first on cookie sheets, then package them (they won’t stick together so badly that way), but I never have enough cookie sheets (or freezer space) to do that, so I just pre-measure them and quit worrying about it.
I am really impressed with the yield on these plants, despite neglect and lack of picking. Next year, we should wind up with even more, as this year’s new plants will also come into production. As usual, I may have over-estimated how many plants we really needed. On the other hand, though, we really like strawberries, and somehow managed to demolish about 70 pounds of various types of home-frozen fruit over the winter, so maybe 125 plants won’t be overkill, after all…