Spring is prime strawberry time in South Louisiana. Planting is recommended during November and December, and the deep green leafy plants begin producing their fruit in March, April and early May, depending on the weather. "As soon as the heat hits it, they're done," says Dale. After enjoying the berries last spring, the Lavergnes pulled up all of the plants and replanted the patch in mid-November. They ordered 100 strawberry plants from Jim's Nursery in Opelousas, thinking roughly 60 would survive. They only lost two during the winter.
Planting the strawberry patch wasn't too much work for the couple. "We tilled each row and put some fertilizer down, and then covered it with the paper and just planted them," Betty says. The garden is located in direct sunlight in the back of the yard and is four rows deep and covered with black plastic to keep the soil moist. (A row of tomatoes and peppers make up the fifth row of the garden.) The Lavergnes sprayed the plants once with fruit spray and added fertilizer twice, but have otherwise left them alone. The most time-consuming part is picking the berries. Betty picks about a gallon in the mornings every other day.
Jim's Nursery owner Jim Briley has been selling strawberry plants for more than 30 years and recommends planting the berries 10 inches apart and adding mulch to the beds. Briley suggested two different varieties of strawberries to the Lavergnes: Camerosa, a newer variety from California that produces large, sweet berries early in the spring, and Chandler, an older variety with slightly smaller berries and later production. Even though they planted two rows of each, the Lavergnes can't tell the difference. "When they first started producing, we did a taste test and I couldn't tell," Dale admits. Judging from the Chandler rows, it looks like they might outlive the Camerosas by a few weeks.
Two weeks ago, the strawberry plants were still brimming with huge, red berries, and some still held a few flowers. But with summer heat approaching, some of the plant's bottom leaves have already begun to turn brown, and the berries aren't as sweet as they were a month ago. The Lavergnes say they've yielded several flats of fruit this season. "I put them in the freezer, and then we make strawberry shortcake," Betty says. "But mostly we just kind of give them away, because they're better fresh than frozen." Dale, a salesman at TriStar Graphics, also brings them to his clients.
"People will ask me, 'How much does all this cost?'" Dale says. "We ordered 100 strawberry plants and it cost us $19, so it's a giveaway."
newsy bits for the fam
Festival International de Louisiane is right around the corner — April 23-27 — and IND Monthly’s second annual Fest fIND contest is along for the ride.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
Georgia-based fried chicken chain would go up against Raising Cane’s, Chick-fil-A and others (like the Popeyes near its proposed location).
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The perfect color for Easter Sunday
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
A Scott businessman has pleaded guilty to failing to report a conspiracy to award Opelousas Housing Authority construction bids to his company.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
Egg-citing ideas for sharing at family gatherings
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, April 15, 2014:
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Court-appointed examiner says Lafayette businessman was “effectively on both sides” of transactions, opens door for legal action against him.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Lafayette-based insurance broker/risk management group bought by Florida firm for undisclosed sum; principals Landry and Harris continue to run local operations.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
The life and legacy of Dave Perkins will be commemorated with a special INDesign Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 2014 event on April 24.
Easy crafts in time for Easter
The Cane Fire Film Series presents “The Great Flood” on Monday, April 14, at the AcA.