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."
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Two bedroom town home or three bedroom contemporary home
Let the party begin
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
Rachel Hector returns home to cultivate a generation of yoga instructors.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
It is distinctly possible control of the U.S. Senate will hinge on Louisiana, which is why, during the last several months, outside groups have made this the most expensive election in Louisiana history.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
A constellation of South Louisiana musical stars descends on Parc Sans Souci to honor an ailing David Egan.
INDStyle Awards 2014 was one for the books; the American Cancer Society took over The Victorian's big tent; and the battle of the sexes was alive and well for Walk a Runway's Christmas fundraiser.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra teams up with choreographer Clare Cook for a modern take on a Stravinsky classic.
Local food pantries begin seasonal drives
A girl's best fashion friend
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Creative living flourishes at Downtown’s artist hub
Four bedroom cottage or four bedroom traditional
Bold looks for fall define INDStyle Awards 2014
Statement pieces for the season
The gents venture out
Project Front Yard has been launched to help us change our image and our habits.
Alleged victim is a Navy vet with brain trauma resulting from a car accident three decades ago.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Richard Buswell was sentenced Tuesday to more than 10 years in prison for his role in an investment scheme that defrauded his clients of more than $6 million.
The Latin Music Festival returns to Parc International this Saturday, Oct. 4, from noon to 10 p.m.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.