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Growing Strawberries

Updated on February 14, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Strawberries are a perennial herb that can be grown in most areas of the United States,as well as Canada. Certain varieties can even be grown in Alaska. They grow best in a cool, moist climate but certain varieties have been developed for growth in the south. If you have any doubts talk to your local nursery, or ag extension office.

Strawberries were not cultivated in the United States until around 1840 when a crossbred berry was developed near Boston. They had been grown in Europe since the 1500s, and the tiny fruited, wild varieties were enjoyed by the early settlers. However, by crossing a large, but nearly tasteless South American berry with the tiny, sweet wild strawberries that were abundant in the north east, a sweet, large berry was created. It is the forerunner of all the modern varieties available.


Planting and Culture

The first step to an abundance of fantastic strawberries is a good quality strawberry bed. Choose an area where the soil is well drained, and not too alkaline. A light, rich loam with a ph of 5-6 is perfect. If you don't have that available you can dig out the dirt you do have and fill the bed with a mixture of loam, compost and well rotted manure, at a rate of 250 lbs of manure for every 500 square feet of garden. Prepare the bed in the fall for spring planting.

As soon as the soil is workable in the spring you may set your plants. As a general rule there should be 25 plants planted per family member and 25 plants for posterity. Another way to figure the amount of plants that should be planted is to plan on 50 quarts of berries for every 100 feet of row.

Use young plants with a vigorous root system. Before planting cut out any damaged or diseased leaves and roots. Dig a hole for each plant that is large enough to contain the roots without crowding them. Heap a mound of soil in the center of the hole to seat the plant and support the root structure.

The plant should be set deep enough that the roots are covered but not so deeply that any of the developing leaves are covered. Half fill the hole with soil. Pour water in and allow to dissipate. Add the rest of the soil and firm it up around the plant. Invert a berry box over the plant for a few days to protect it. Keep soil moist, but not wet, for the first week.

Matted rows are actually one of the best planting techniques for the homesteader who is not using a raised bed system. Plants are set 18 inches apart in rows that are three to four feet apart. The runners are permitted to grow during the first season, with only the buds being removed to strengthen the plants. A matt is formed over the season. For easiest harvest keep the rows no more than three feet wide. Generally the plants will be plowed under after three years and the bed started again.

Permanently mulched bed is another good way to grow strawberries. In this technique the plants are planted according to the instructions above, and allowed to bear. When harvesting the grower marks his best bearing plants, spacing the markers 10 inches apart if possible. When the berries are harvested, the unmarked plants are culled, and a side dressing of compost and well rotted manure applied. The plants are allowed to send out runners for the next season's plants.

By selecting the best plants every year, the patch will continue to bear an increasingly stronger, and better crop.Strawberries should be mulched over to protect them during the winter, in order to prevent freezing and drying. Wait until the garden is frozen and then mulch over the plants with straw or other mulch, in a layer about four inches deep. Do this toward the last part of November. Be sure to remove the mulch as soon as the ground thaws, but after danger of a hard freeze is over.

Diseases and Insects that Attack Strawberries

In order to keep your plants healthy be sure to choose varieties that are resistant to diseases and insects prevalent in your area. Buy good, disease free stock, and replace the old plants with new plants (from runners, or bought) every year. If you are not using a permanent bed then rotate the berry patch regularly.

  • Red Stele-causes plants to wilt and die just before fruit ripens. It is a fungi that is most active in wet weather, and wet soil. Plant resistant varieties and make sure the bed has good drainage.
  • Verticillum Wilt- is a fungus that causes the leaves to dry and turn brown. Plant resistant varieties and do not plant strawberries where tomatoes,peppers or potatoes have been planted previously.
  • Insects should be controlled with organic methods. If pests are a bad problem destroy the plants and make a new garden at least 300 feet away.

Now You Have Them...Make Jam!

Varieties of Strawberry

There are numerous strawberry varieties available and it would be impossible to keep up with them all. Some recommended varieties are:

Canada adn Northern U.S.

  • Dunlap
  • Sunburst
  • Sparkle
  • Surecrop
  • Vibrant

Northeastern U.S and North Atlantic

  • Dunlap
  • Cyclone
  • Fletcher
  • Sparkle
  • Surecrop
  • Catskill

Mid Atlantic

  • Atlas
  • Guardian
  • Jerseybelle


  • Surecrop
  • Midway
  • Guardian

Pacific Coast

  • Olympus
  • Tioga
  • Salinas
  • Tufts

Southern States

  • Sunrise
  • Camarosa
  • Chandler
  • Seascape

Again, there are many more berries, and since micro-climates can make a difference, do check locally which varieties are recommended for your area.


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    • profile image

      Mini Greenhouse Guy 

      7 years ago

      What a great hub Marye, its so nice when people put so much effort into their hubs. Thanks for some really interesting info. I'll have my strawberries in for next year as ive now got a sizeable piece of land, thankfully.

    • profile image

      Growing Strawberries Fan 

      8 years ago

      Excellent article. I am personally a huge fan of growing strawberries, because strawberries are simpy tastier and healthier when grown at home.

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image

      Ultimate Hubber 

      8 years ago

      A comprehensive hub on growing these lovely berries.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 

      8 years ago

      Great info and very interesting read!

    • jayjay40 profile image


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Great hub, well written. My strawberries are small and the yeild is poor, I needed to read your hub, thanks

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi.Dorsi... I have the same problem... beautiful, red, and ripe and flavourful...but... not sweet... I also want to know "WHY"?


    • mikethegardener profile image


      9 years ago from New Jersey

      excellent article...thanks for the info

    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 

      9 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Thanks Marye for the informative hub. I just wrote about the "strawberry legacy" left to me in our garden so now I'm on a BIG    strawberry   Thumbs up!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I have a question, whyare my berries not sweet? they have a very good flavor and are big, I think they are good but my husband says they are not sweet enough. can any one help me.

    • desert blondie profile image

      desert blondie 

      10 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Yum! One article I recently read said a serving of strawberries had more Vitamin C than an orange! And oranges sure don't taste nearly as wonderful on my breakfast cereal! You might like my column that encourages readers to be really aware when purchasing fresh produce. But what could be better, or safer, than growning your own. Good luck!

    • compu-smart profile image


      10 years ago from London UK

      Mmmm, fresh strawberrys n cream n a dab of sugar! my ultimate favorite berrys;)

      I wish i could follow these tips to grow but the only thing i can grow without any problem is my hair!

    • flread45 profile image


      10 years ago from Montana

      I pick wild strawberrys in the mountains,when I am on a fishing excursion..They are the size of a marble.

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Kat, not so well in texas because of the heat/dryness. But if you live in a more temprate climate yes they work fine. (we see 112 sometimes in the summer with a hot drry wind)

    • Kat07 profile image


      10 years ago from Tampa

      Marye - I see strawberry planter pots, but have never tried them - do they work?

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Amy-she is sure to have a great time with them!

      Rachel- I know! And it has eben years since I had any Jersey berries.

      Viv-they do great in containers! excellent idea

      Gadzooks- umm...with a .22?

    • Gadzooks profile image


      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice hub, but you have missed a vital step "how to stop the birds eating your strawberries" ;-)

    • profile image


      10 years ago from Newcastle

      Great hub! I'm all motivated now to get some strwaberry's plented in pot plants for my balcony

    • RachelOrd profile image

      Rachel Ord 

      10 years ago from Palm Coast

      I just got some strawberry plants that I put in hanging baskets. They seem to do OK that way here in Florida. I already got a few nice berries.

      In NJ they grew like weeds once you planted them...sooooo good!

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you so much for this thorough information! My daughter is a strawberry fanatic and has been wanting to try growing them. This is just what I needed! :)

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Marisue- We used to pick berries at a farm in NJ..I know what you for the sun and drenched with flavor...

      Donna-I totally agree

      Zsuzy-Always a pleasure to see you

      Trafficka- Yes it is!

    • traffickahuna profile image


      10 years ago from Pittsburg

      Fresh strawberry jam is delicious!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Yum-Yum-Yum! Our strawberries won't be ripe here in Canada usually till mid-June. I'm not going to say I can't wait because then that would mean I'm wishing the spring away.

      Lots of super information in this great hub as always. Thanks for sharing Marye.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • donnaleemason profile image


      10 years ago from North Dakota, USA

      Back in NZ, we had strawberries in our garden. It is the kind of food no matter how much you eat, that you can never tire of.


    • marisuewrites profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      ooo I love all this info....I lived in Camarillo California for a couple of years when I was 16 and man, they had beautiful and bountiful fields of strawberries. Many places had stands right by the fields and you could get them fresh picked! Back breaking work for the workers....I remember eating them right from the plant and letting the juice run down all over me and who was heaven.

      And the lemon trees there were sweet with fruit -- huge lemons that were oh so sweet, not a pucker among them!! who knew? ahhhh i can smell them now. Marisue

      LOVED this hub and I will save this info


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