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."
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Reamco founders Brent Milam and Ashley Lane now shareholders in acquiring company and part of its management team.
Low heels, high style
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
The board hopes to recover all fees paid, plus one-half, along with what could amount to hundreds of thousands in additional penalties.
Oh, the irony... or something like that.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
St. Patty's Day crafts
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.