Strawberries are a relatively easy fruit to grow in your garden and the reward is well worth the effort. Growing Strawberries is a very rewarding experience since it is one of the best fruits out there due to its sweetness and texture.
Almost everyone enjoys a good strawberry whether whole, or in a milkshake or in a dessert, it is a delightful treat to have.
The problem comes with store bought strawberries. When the fruit is plucked from the plant, the natural sugar is converted in to starch causing it to lose its original sweetness.
So, if you are looking for the sweet taste of a freshly grown strawberry, it’s a good idea to start growing one in your garden.
Here are some of the things you need to know on how to grow a strawberry plant.
Types of Strawberries
First thing you should know is that there are 3 types of strawberry plants. The first one is Day-Neutral strawberry plant.
The day-neutral plant produces a good yield in the first year, as long as it is kept in a temperature of 35 to 85 degrees.
The biggest drawback to the day-neutral plant is that all of the berries produced are small in size, usually no longer than 1 inch. This type is usually paired with the Hill system of growing the plant.
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The second type is the Ever-bearer. The name is misleading since the plant only produces the berries twice per year. Once in the spring time and once in late summer or fall.
The ever-bearer doesn’t put out as much runners as the June bearing type since all of its energy is directed towards producing multiple harvests.
The ever-bearer also makes use of the hill system for growing.
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The third and final type is the June-Bearing strawberry plant. This is the most popular and common type of strawberry plant.
As the name suggests, the June-bearing plant produces the berries around June and is usually ready to harvest within 2 to 3 weeks of the appearance of its first berry.
It typically produces the largest strawberries. This is why it is very popular among farmers as well as home growers. The June-bearing type is further divided into three other categories:
Early season, Midseason and Late Season. Early season strawberries usually start to bloom around late spring.
Midseason usually produces berries about 8 days after early season. Lastly, late season variety comes after 14 days of early season. They are usually planted in the matted row system.
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A must read and helpful article for beginners is Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully.
Matted Row System
This method works perfectly for those strawberry plants that tend to produce a lot of runners in the span of their growth. The basic outline is that you plant each individual plant at a distance of about 18 inches apart in rows of 24 inches and leave about 4 to 4 ½ feet distance between each row.
Leaves and flower buds will appear shortly after planting so you will need to pinch off all the flowers during the first year of planting.
This is beneficial for the plant and will also increase the production of the runners.
When you pinch of the flowers, the crops will not bloom that year but this paves the way for a much better harvest for the next several years.
In order to properly cultivate it, the runners need to develop their crowns.
Space them about 9 inches apart and press the runner gently in to the soil and hold it in place by covering it with about ½ inch of soil until the roots form. But do not sever the runner from the mother plant.
If you need a book that covers everything you need to know about growing strawberries like a professional, check out How to Propagate, Cultivate and Harvest Strawberries Like a Professional by Edwin Powell.
This system is mostly used for the ever-bearer and day neutral types of strawberry plants. The hill system makes use of a raised bed that is 8 inches in height and has a width of about 2 feet.
The plants are placed in a staggered double rows formation, about 12 inches apart. In this method, all the runners and flowers are removed from the plants.
Their energy is diverted to the mother plant so that it can have multiple harvests.
When using on the ever-bearer and day neutral types, the plants should be replaced every 3 years once they start showing signs of slow vigor.Louise Riotte's Grow the Best Strawberries is also very helpful with hands-on instructions designed to help readers master dozens of country living skills quickly and easily.
Plant the strawberry in spring. Around the time when the soil is dry enough to be worked on or you can plant around late fall. When planting, it’s best to get an already matured plant from a reliable nursery and make sure that it’s disease resistant.
The best strawberry plants are those with large crowns, healthy and have light colored roots.
Before you start planting, you need to make sure that your soil is perfect. To ensure this, it is best that you layer the soil with at least 1 to 2 inches of compost or well-rotted manure.
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Ever wondered which fruits and vegetables are perfect for your small apartment garden? Check out Vegetables and Fruits You Can Grow In Your Apartment.
Instructions on Planting Strawberries
Make a hole that is large enough to accommodate all the roots of the plant and fill the center of the hole with the soil until it resembles a hill shape.
Spread the roots of the plant in a downwards position on the hill. Fill the remaining hole making sure the crown stays level with the soil.
Things to remember
The thing you have to keep in mind when planting a strawberry plant, is that the planting depth needs to be perfect otherwise the results would not be so great.
The plant shouldn’t be so deep in to the soil that the crown gets buried because a buried crown will cause the plant to rot. Also, don’t plant it so high that the roots are not properly covered.
The perfect position is where the roots remain well hidden but the crown stays level with the soil.Instructions in Strawberry Culture by E.W Durrand is a guide to growing strawberries. Written in 1898, this classic text provides insight into how to successfully grow strawberries.
Be sure to provide an adequate amount of space for the runners of the plant. So, if you are planning to plant in a higher quantity of strawberry plants, you should leave at least 20 inches between each separate plant and about 4 feet between each rows of the plant.
Make sure that the roots are at a depth of 8 inches, if they are any longer than the roots, they should be trimmed.
Apply mulch between the plants after planting to keep the soil cool and hinder the progress of weeds while also keeping the fruit off the soil.
If you are growing your strawberries in a colder climate then it is beneficial to mulch over the strawberry plants in winter since that can prevent injuries to the crown.
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The Complicated Stuff
Use mulch that can be easily removed from the plant once spring arrives. Straw mulch is the ideal option but shredded leave also work well. The pH level of the soil should be between 5.5 and 6.8.
The strawberry plant requires approximately 6 to 10 hours per day of direct sunlight.
Make sure that the strawberry is planted in a well-drained and sandy loam. If it is not, then a raised bed is a good option as well since you need to make a mixture of your own soil for it.
Ensure that the spot where you plant did not previously host tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes or peppers because this can cause Verticillium rot in your plant.
Also, be on the lookout for weeds. This type of crop rotation is bad for the strawberry so it’s best to learn a thing or two about crop rotation.
If you are from California, check out The Strawberry Story by Julie Bawden-Davis. The book shows novice and pro gardeners alike how to grow sweet, juicy strawberries throughout the year in Southern California.
If you wish to keep the quality of the berries high, then it is beneficial to plant a new strawberry plant each year. If you feel that getting a new plant each year is a hassle, then try to use the runners of the previous plants to grow new strawberry plants.
Caring For Your Strawberry Plant
Taking care of a strawberry plant ensures that each year, your harvest is perfect. Improper supervision can lead to deformed or awful berries. One of the enemies of the strawberry is slugs. They tend to chew holes in the berries as they start to ripen.Click To Tweet
Slugs become a problem for those that use organic mulch since it tends to attract slugs.
Ways To Repel Slugs
If you want to avoid them then it is best to use plastic mulch or spread some sand all over the strawberry bed. Although I would recommend not using black plastic mulch since that raises the temperature of the soil which can be harmful for the plants.
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Keep the beds mulched properly since they prevent weeds from forming and reduce the water requirements of the plant.
Birds are another danger that you might want to watch out for since they quite enjoy strawberries.
The best way to keep them out is to cover your plants with light weight bird netting. Or you could place a balloon above the plant to scare the birds off, that usually works too.
It’s not just insects that can get to your berries. The berries may turn out deformed if the weather is too cold and not pollinated properly.
If you’re looking for a great fertilizer for your strawberry indoor and outdoor plants, check out Gardens Alive’s Strawberries Alive! 100% All-Natural Fertilizer.
Diseases and Problems
Another thing to keep in mind is diseases. There are several fungal diseases that can cause dark spots to form on the leaves.
Some of the other diseases and pests you might want to keep an eye out for are gray mold, powdery mildew, Japanese beetles, and spider mites, all of which can be disastrous for your plant.
If you have a problem with the Japanese beetle, the cure is spraying the plants with pureed garlic and neem seed oil.
Water thoroughly and about one inch per week and be thorough because strawberry plants need a lot of water seeing as they grow runners and flowers during their development phase.
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Strawberry Growing Essentials
Watering is especially important during the blooming phase. Taking care of the plants water needs from early bloom till the end of harvest is essential for its growth.
Mowing or clipping strawberry foliage can stop pests and diseases from growing.
As most people know, good roots equals a good harvest. If you want the best strawberries, then you should pick off the blossoms in the first year.
The energy that goes to the berries is being diverted into growing a healthy root network. This will increase the quality of the yield in the second year.
The thing to know about strawberry plants is that the first and second generation plants produce a higher yield. It is usually a good idea to get rid of the daughter plant.
If you are looking for a planter that is great for growing strawberries, check Mr. Stacky’s 5-Tier Strawberry Planter Pot.
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Harvest and Storage
Strawberries usually reach full bloom within 4 to 6 weeks after they first blossom. It is a good idea to pick the fruit in the morning, when it’s cool. You may immediately put them in the refrigerator.
You can tell by the color of the berry when it has fully ripened. It will turn a delicious red color.
Things to keep in mind
When you are collecting your harvest keep in mind that you should not pull on the berries. Best to do is for you should cut them by the stem. This harvest time will span for 3 weeks and you can pick the berries every 3 days.
Around this time your plant should have plenty of strawberries for you to pick. You can refrigerate unwashed strawberries for 3 to 5 days or freeze them for 2 months.
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P.S – Another helpful article on different types of berries that you can plant in containers, is 8 Berries to Grow In Containers for Incredible Flavor. Check it out here.
Last update on 2019-02-20 / Affiliate links / Product Images from Amazon Product Advertising API