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."
As part of a national undertaking known by industry insiders as the “Butterfly Project,” a rebranded version of The Daily Advertiser is set to launch with Sunday’s edition of the Gannett-owned paper.
Louisiana moved up a slot to 48th in the ranking of healthy states — once again, thank God for Mississippi! — so all this frettin’ about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid per Obamacare ... fuggidaboutit! We don’t need Medicaid no more!
The Denham Springs woman who placed Christmas lights in the shape of a butter finger on her roof in a display of anger directed at neighbors has doubled the trouble for the 2013 holiday season.
The New Orleans architect behind the 1984 World’s Fair also left his mark on Lafayette.
Laid back vibe just right for NOLA Bowl
The 30-second commercial, to run around the state, is the Democratic senator's first TV spot in her bid for re-election to a fourth term.
It's a number that has edged up but falls far short of the thousands who are eligible for subsidized coverage.
A group of mostly higher education leaders will make recommendations to state lawmakers about how to tweak the policies governing tuition rates charged at the state's public colleges.
Week long specials and a ribbon cutting celebration held in Parc Lafayette
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Fort Worth company's new facility at Lafayette Regional Airport will build helicopters primarily for the export market.
Could River Ranch restaurant be the next star?
Move over Hooters — there’s a new breastaurant coming to town.
Hashtag, retweet, like, share and do whatever else it takes to get in good today with the jolly man in red.
That would be Congressman John Fleming talking about Sen. David Vitter.
The alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme that went on for four years under DA Mike Harson’s nose isn’t just schizophrenic, bipolar and recovering from mini strokes; he now says he has cancer.
Louisiana's higher education leaders are trying to work out a financing deal to keep the state's public colleges from running low on state cash to operate their campuses.
With their latest triumph, the Saints left little doubt about how tough they are to beat in the Superdome. Unfortunately, two of their remaining three games are on the road.
The festival is scheduled for March 21-22 in New Orleans.
NOLA Bowl ready prints