Garden - Growing Strawberries!
Strawberry plants can produce tasty home-grown fruits throughout the summer months. Whether you grow them in a garden, landscape or container, seasonal yields depend on cultivar and if the plants are June-bearing, day-neutral or everbearing.
June-bearing strawberries, when planted in late summer and autumn, will produce fruits the following spring as long as the vegetation is not damaged by overly-extreme cold winter temperatures. If you live in the Mediterranean climates of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 13, consider June-bearing cultivars such as Douglas, Chandler, Crimson King and Evangeline, along with many other types available in garden stores and online.
June-bearing cultivars, also known as “short-day” strawberries, vary in taste and hardiness. Place June-bearers about 12 to 24 inches apart in the garden so that runners have room to spread. Do not plant them in dirt previously used for tomatoes, eggplants and peppers; untreated soil may be stripped of much-needed nutrients.
Day-Neutral Strawberry Plants
Day-neutral strawberry plants can produce fruits throughout the growing season and are well-suited for USDA zones 1 though 7, especially after the last spring frosts. Popular day-neutral cultivars such as Tristar and Tribute are fairly hardy and resistant to Verticillium wilt; a serious fungal disease that affects woody plant and herbaceous species. Other kinds -- Selva, Fern, Hecker, Irvine and Muir -- vary in flavor and color but they typically produce berries all summer long. Placing day-neutral strawberries 8 to 12 inches apart in rows about 3 feet apart gives the plants room to spread. Trimming unwanted runners helps plants produce larger berries.
Everbearing Strawberry Plant
Everbearing strawberry cultivars produce fruit crops in late spring and early fall. The crop yield is relatively small compared to June-bearing and day-neutral varieties; because of that, the plants do not spawn many runners. Popular everbearing strawberry varieties include; Ozark Beauty, Eversweet, Ogallala and the hardy Fort Laramie, good for growing in cooler climates. Place everbearing strawberry cultivars in dirt hills -- spacing the plants about a foot apart.
Before you set even one little root into the ground, choose and measure planting space. Test the soil’s pH; it should be from 5.5 to 7.5 (you can alter the balance with a 10-10-10 fertilizer, if necessary).
In direct sunlight, two systems are best for planting strawberries; matted rows or beds (for June-bearing cultivars) and small hills for day-neutral and everbearing types.
The matted row system works well in small gardens; place the plants 18 to 24 inches apart and in rows that are 4 feet apart. Runners will spread between the rows -- you must remove unwanted vegetation to encourage flower heads.
For hill growing systems, space the plants about 1 foot apart and with 3 feet between rows. Remove ripe or almost-ripe fruits every couple of days; do not leave any rotting on the stems. Dense or crowded matted rows can bring about stunted or diseased fruits. Raised beds tend to dry out so water the plants as needed; don’t let the roots sit in puddles.
- Water thoroughly and consistently during growing season
- Hand-pull weeds; avoid strawberry plant root systems
- Trim overgrown roots back to 6 inches so they will embed into the earth
- Cover roots and young plants with 4 to 6 inches of straw mulch
- Cover plants if the temperature dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit
- Increase the size of the berries by removing excess runners
Containers, Pots, Boxes etc.
Don’t have an outside garden? You can plant strawberries indoors in variously-sized containers as long as the plants are able to fully soak up the sunlight. Measure the window; the number of plants and their spacing depends on the size of the box. Use fresh -- not “recycled” -- potting soil; add specially-mixed fertilizer to produce high yields and healthy fruit. Water the plants as needed but do not let roots become oversaturated. Trimming off extra runners will help these perennials to produce larger and healthier berries. Plants typically yield strawberries in about 3 months.
© 2015 Teri Silver