Every year after strawberry season is over I kick myself for not replanting the strawberries I lost a few years ago to drought. And yes, I did it again this year, but for sure next spring growing strawberry plants will be first on my to do list. They are going back into the garden. Right now I am feasting on the raspberries for consolation.
Strawberries are really an easy plant to grow. Most important is that you start with good plants that are certified disease free. In spring you will find young strawberry plants available at your local nursery or garden center.
Some varieties will bear fruit once in the season around early to mid summer. Others described as ever bearing will produce several crops between early summer and mid fall. I usually plant some of both. The regular strawberries I find to be much larger however having the ever bearing ones gives me strawberries for a much longer period of time.
Strawberries prefer a fertile soil to do well. Before planting add lots of compost or well aged manure into your soil. Make sure the area you are using is weed free then rake in a balanced garden fertilizer. Plant your strawberries about 18 inches apart in rows about 30 inches apart in full sun. If you have purchased bare root strawberry plants spread the roots out on a small mound in a shallow hole and have the crown of the plant level with the ground. Fill in with dirt. If your strawberry plants are in pots, water well then plant into your garden at their original depth.
To grow plants well strawberries should receive regular feeding so give a well balanced fertilizer each spring. Keep the weeds down by regular hoeing between your rows. Be sure to supply ample water, especially during fruit production to ensure you have nice plump berries.
The first year you really should remove any flowers that appear. This will help your plants to get established before they are forced to produce a crop. This is hard to do I know, probably the hardest part of growing a strawberry plant. In the second year spread out any runners that emerge from the parent plants and peg the stem where there is strong leaf growth into the soil where it will re-root itself to form another plant. After about 6 weeks the new plant should be well rooted in and you can cut it away from the mother plant. Any extra runners that are produced should be removed.
It’s nice to try and keep your berries clean. This is easily done by spreading straw down around the plants when first planted. When your berries are ripe pick and enjoy. Pick your strawberries carefully by the stalk to avoid any bruising. The best way to eat them is fresh, right from the garden into your bowl. If you have more than you can eat and would like to save them, probably freezing is best. Although not particularly satisfactory, after freezing they can be blended to make great desserts, jams or drinks.
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