strawberry hill

Last night, yours truly used a mitre saw, a shovel, a hammer, a bobcat, a riding lawn mower, and a metal rake.  Giddy up.  The garden composted, tilled, and ready for planting this weekend!  I’m sure that’s crazy to those of you who are already harvesting goodness, but Michigan is Zone 5 and few people chance planting before May 15. I’m really a terrible gardener, so I don’t even start seedlings.  I buy started plants from our local nursery so I have some small amount of success.  Small. I need all the help I can get.

This year, I really want to grow things we eat.  Sounds simple, I know.  But it can be so easy to go gangbusters at the seed store and come home with all kinds of things… and then you’ve got a wild garden with 40 sub-species growing and all you’re actually eating are the cherry tomatoes.  This year, I am open to new crops but I want them to be big-time crops for us. 

Main attractions this year: corn, tomatoes (lots and lots… last year was dismal for tomatoes and I wasn’t able to can ANY), squash, zucchini, green beans (a bean tunnel maybe!), cucumbers, carrots, onions, and potatoes. My broccoli and peppers are always awful… so I’m happily leaning on our farmer’s market across the road for those.

Now: root veggies.  We eat lots and lots of these.  I’ve NEVER grown them before, so I welcome any advice and instruction.  Please be as elementary as possible.  Potatoes, carrots, and onions.  How to plant?  How to tell when they’re ready?  How to store for winter usage?  Bring it.

Also new this year: raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes, AND strawberries!  Freezer jam is an absolute necessity in this house and I generally spend $28 on fruit each year to make it.  Strawberries are perennials that can survive winter.  Why am I not growing my own?  Sometimes, I’m a little slow to punch in, Folks.  I give you: strawberry hill.

The frame is made from leftover roof trusses Curt scored from a builder.  We’ve used them in every project we’ve ever made out here.  They are the literally the fabric of our farm. The bottom square (cut by me) is 5 feet x 5 feet.  The middle layer (cut by… me) is 3 feet square.  The top layer (cut by… mmmmhmmmm… me) is 1 foot square.  It holds 25 strawberry plants.  I’ve NO IDEA if it will yield enough for us, but it sure looks awesome. [edited for my notes: the 2 varieties planted here are Earliglow and Sparkle.  Both are Junebearing, but very hearty.]

Ry and I got the idea from my favorite catalog, which had the measurements and quantities already laid out for me.  Brilliant.  Saved: $149 + shipping.  The plants cost me $24 and will be covered with netting to avoid becoming dessert for the chickens and bunnies.  I love this compact, raised-bed system for berries.  It will be easier to weed and cover for winter. 

Please notice Ry’s tools.  I’m not sure how the silverware plays into this whole scheme, but they were important.  Went everywhere with us.

And here’s my little Gus Man.  Dirtiest kid alive, my hand to heaven, and absolutely no help in the garden.  But oh so squishable.

So, that’s the beginning of the garden and berry patch.  The raspberries and blueberries will take a couple years to yield anything measurable, but it has always been a dream of mine to have a berry patch that you can mosey by and grab a snack.  I’m excited.  I’m excited, I tell you, and I got nothin’ but time.

Y’all have a great weekend!  Are you planting anything this year?

Blessings to you from TexasNorth.

We sure do like you.

About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

21 responses to “strawberry hill

  • Bonnie

    Way to go, Kate. When Spectrum tells you that $900/hour is reasonable, just let it go and get friendly with the earth. I love the way you cope.

  • claire

    What a great Strawberry bed! I just planted my first garden! I have a ton of stuff growing–bok choy, carrots, peas, beets, kale, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, acorn squash, butternut squash, cucs, and zucchini. We’ll see how it turns out. The bok choy wasn’t that tasty and my broccoli failed…

  • Mandi

    I love your Strawberry Hill, and I love the fact that you did all the work for it yourself! You rock!! We are really looking forward to planting a nice little garden in the next couple of years. Just gotta get our house finished first!

  • Cortney

    Eeeek! I looooove your berry patch. One day when Matt and The Doodle (whose name, today, is Ellie-Bea Ann) and I move even further out into the country, I WILL have a strawberry hill to go with my chickens and miniature donkey and fainting goats and veggies we actually eat as well. LOVE IT!

    Gus reminds me so much of my brother at that age–Michael was also the dirtiest kid IN THE WORLD, and could be cleaned, dressed, sat on the couch to await further attention, and in a matter of minutes, be dirty again. We have no idea how he did it. The dirt *found* him. It was awesome.

  • Renee

    Way to go! I planted two measly tomato plants in upside down hangers and one green pepper because I’m the only one who eats them. Maybe I will try canning them. I also have 25 or more 6-year old strawberry plants, and just added another 15 or so. It takes several years for strawberries to really get going but I am thinking you are going to need more to be able to use them for making jam, but its a good start. Oh, the net is a good idea but also watch for bugs, and kids, they eat away at the strawberries, oh, and dogs. I want to do zucchini again but I have to decide how to battle the squash bugs first. I have great luck with bush green beans so I guess I will get those in quickly. You have to plant them in succession about a week apart if you want beans all summer long. I have learned that you have to plant many beans and many corn plants if you actually want to feed more than one person with your harvest 🙂

    • texasnorth

      I think we’ll need more, too. They’re along the back edge of the garden and it would (will) be easy to add another strawberry hill or two down the line. Let me NOT kill these for a year and then we’ll add some 😉

  • amanda {the habit of being}

    looks great! i wish i had planted strawberries but i didn’t get going early enough this year (remember, our strawberry season is coming to a rapid end already). and once we find our land, there will be berry patches and fruit trees galore 😉

  • Anna

    If they’re ever-bearing strawberries, you are GOLDEN. If they’re June bearing, I bet you’ll still have enough in about three years. It will take a while for them to be established and really start producing well.

  • tumbledweeds

    Lookin’ good. I love the promise and faith of growing things. Can’t wait to see how you fare. We’ve got a small bit of a shared garden, with friends. Tomatoes, peppers, bush beans, cucumber, squash, carrots, beets, snap peas… I’m sure I’m forgetting something. I don’t know much about those roots — we just pull a carrot every once in a while to take a look see.

  • Kim Aguilar

    Love love love love love love….I could go on you know.

  • MC

    Oh, sounds like such fun! We sadly won’t have a garden this year, but Brian’s mom has volunteered to plant some peppers, tomatoes and basil in our beds while we are in Bozeman. BUT we are having the best year yet from our strawberries we planted three summers ago. For some reason, the birds are leaving some for us this year and they are delicious!
    I love your berry patch idea! Happy gardening!

  • HopefulLeigh

    There are no words for how jealous I am of your garden. Please send me some jam?

  • Aunt Regina

    I am so jealous —-a bobcat!! this is one of my life dreams is to operate a bobcat.

  • Jim

    Our garlic has come up from the fall planting (love garlic 44 plants) onions and peas in, strawberries blossoming. Tomato seeds up and getting ready. This why I love retirement. And I love your raised beds.

  • Megan at SortaCrunchy

    We are co-gardening with some friends of ours for the first time this year. YAY! We’ve got three varieties of tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, beans, lettuce, radishes, and some cantalopes in the ground. We shall see how it turns out.

    I ADORE the strawberry hill. What a FANTASTIC idea. Please promise to update often with pictures.

  • Sara

    OK- So this is super super random. But I recently discovered your blog and have been devoring it ever since. I have gone back to the begining to read forward. I love watching your family grow. But I do have a question- Are you/ your hubby related to the Mr. Mulder that used to teach at WC by chance? Just curious because I am a WC grad and GR is my hometown!

    • texasnorth

      Hi, Sara! So very glad you stopped by!!! Now, I don’t THINK we’re related to the Mulder you’re thinking of, but I’ll double check. We do have a Mulder that’s a prof at Kendall Art. But, for the most part, we’re the furniture designer Mulders from Grand Rapids 🙂

  • Margie

    Katie, by itself your strawberry is astounding. Astonishing. Creative. Energetic. But in light of your recent news, it seems like something akin to a miracle. Weren’t you TIRED? I don’t think I pulled my head off the desk for the first 14 weeks of either pregnancy.

    Wayne has planted herbs (yes!) that are doing well. Except that I’ve forgotten to water them these last 2 days he’s been out of town. Going out now, and seriously hoping I don’t bump into the friendly neighborhood opossum.

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