How do you grow strawberries?

Strawberries - courtesy *clairity* - CC-BY

Strawberries - courtesy *clairity* - CC-BY

Strawberries are an ideal fruit for the home garden. They are easy to grow, fairly pest free, require little space and are fun. Twenty-five plants should provide enough berries for a family of four.

There are many varieties available. Be sure to purchase certified, virus-free plants. They may cost a little more but will produce healthier plants and greater yields of fruit.

Strawberries will grow in almost any type of soil, but they do prefer a sandy loam. Important things to consider are adequate water drainage and abundant organic matter. Soil should be well-cultivated and free of weeds. Soil should be kept cultivated to allow runners to take root. Strawberries should not be planted where peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes have been grown since these plants often harbor verticillium wilt, a bad disease for strawberries.

Strawberries are very versatile, and can be planted in a variety of ways. Many people will plant strawberries in containers. Hanging strawberry planters are a favorite method, and allow you to grow strawberries on the balcony or a patio. However, the most common way of growing strawberries is in a bed. Since they are most often grown as perennials, you want a location for the bed that is out of the way, as it will be mulched and scraggly looking for part of the year. You should plant in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Place the new plants so the crown is at soil level. Since the buds can be harmed by frost, so for new plantings you may want to wait til after the last frost.

For June bearing strawberries, during the first growing season you should remove the flowers, which helps promote runner development. This will improve yields in the following years. For everbearing berries the idea is similar, you remove the flowers until the end of June and after that date allow the flowers to remain to set fruit for a summer/fall harvest.

Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-0). Use about 1 lb of fertilizer per 100 square feet. Be careful not to over fertilize, as that just encourages leafy growth, and increases the susceptibility to frost and other winter damage.

For more information about growing strawberries

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