ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Garden Tips from The Micro Farm Project: How to Grow Strawberries

Updated on October 28, 2015

You can grow strawberries — even in containers or small gardens — to enjoy ripe berries from your own backyard.

Of all crops crown in the home garden, strawberries are one of the easiest and most rewarding. If you have ever had the pleasure of savoring a homegrown berry, you know that taste berries ripened on the vine taste far better than store-bought varieties. For the organic or natural gardener, berries can be grown pesticide free, which is a great advantage since the tender, pitted exterior of a strawberry is difficult to clean and the thin skin absorbs chemicals readily. Additionally, it can be much less expensive to grow strawberries than it is to purchase them at the market.

Strawberries are a cold-hardy perennial that produce fruits in the spring, with some varieties producing throughout the summer and into the early fall. This low-growing herbaceous plant produces fruits that are rich in vitamin C, iron and minerals. Surprisingly, the fruit is not a true berry. What we refer to as the berry is actually an enlarged receptacle that houses many achenes, which appear to be ordinary seeds, but in reality are the true fruits of the strawberry plant. The cultivated strawberry plant, Fragaria X ananassa Duch., is a member of the family Rosaceae, subfamily Rosoideae, as are blackberries and raspberries.

This article will explore strawberry varieties and how to grow them. Planting, growing and harvesting instructions are discussed, as well as storage preservation tips. Finally, we will conclude with a delicious recipe for Strawberry Mint Jam.

Photo credit: PublicDomainPhotos

Strawberry Varieties
Strawberry Varieties

Types of Strawberry Plants

Strawberry varieties fall into one of three main types:

1. June Bearing strawberries produce berries during a 2 - 3 week period in the spring. They are known for their large fruits..They are classified into early, mid-season and late varieties, depending on how early or late in the spring they will begin to produce a harvest. These varieties send out runners that create new strawberry plants.

2. Everbearing strawberries produce berries intermittently during from spring through the fall. They are very good for gardens in which space is limited as they do not send out as many runners as the June bearing varieties, instead spending their energy on producing 2 or 3 harvests each year.The berries tend to be smaller than the June bearing varieties, and after 2-3 years, berry production declines and the plants should be replaced.

3. Day Neutral strawberries are very similar to Everbearing berries, though they will produce fruit continuously throughout the growing season.

Learn more about strawberry varieties here.

Photo credit: Bromsash at

Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project
Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project

Site Preparation and Planting Strawberries

Site preparation: Choose a site that has not recently had tomatoes, peppers, potatoes or eggplant growing in it to prevent the spread of Verticillium Rot. Plant strawberries in full sun. Provide a light sun protection to the berries if you live in an area with hot summers. Soil should be rich and well-drained. Prepare the soil to a depth of 1 foot, removing any stones or obstacles. Add plenty of compost to the planting bed to keep the soil loose so that roots can grow freely. Strawberries grow best in a soil pH of 5.8 to 6.2.

When to plant: Plant in late fall or early spring.

Planting and spacing: Make a hole in the soil that is large enough to spread the roots. Plant with roots down and the crown up. Backfill the hole with soil, leaving half of the crown exposed.

Space Junebearing crowns 18 inches apart and everbearing/day neutral varieties 12 inches apart. Space rows 4 feet apart.

Container growing: Berries grow very well in containers and hanging baskets. Choose a container that is at least a foot wide and a foot deep and has draining holes in the bottom. Fill the container with a mixture of potting soil and compost. Do not crowd your plants in the pot; space them 12 inches apart.

Strawberry Containers, Crowns and Seeds

The easiest method for growing strawberries is to grow from crowns, often referred to commercially as "bare root strawberries." You can also grow strawberries from seed. Amazon carries some interesting seed varieties. When I order from Amazon, I stock up on garden supplies in order to take advantage of FREE Super Saver shipping for qualified orders of $25 or more.

Learn more about starting Strawberries from seed here.

When growing in containers, always use potting soil, as opposed to commercial garden soil or dirt from your yard. Mix 2/3 potting soil with 1/3 compost.

Strawberry Blossoms
Strawberry Blossoms

Cultivation of Strawberry Plants

Water and feeding: Water on a regular schedule, keeping the soil evenly moist to encourage berry production. Soil should feel as moist as a wrung-out sponge, not waterlogged. Add compost or a low nitrogen fertilizer to the planting bed when June bearing varieties cease bearing for the year. Fertilize between harvests for everbearing/day neutral varieties, but do not fertilize at the end of the season to prevent new growth that may be frost tender.

Companion plants: Bush beans and Lupin flowers are excellent plants to grow near strawberries as they fix nitrogen in the soil and attract beneficial insects. Borage and thyme, as well as lettuces, or recommended companion plants, as well. Avoid planting near members of the cabbage family, as the strawberries my impede their growth.

Cultivation: Keep strawberry beds weed free for greatest production. To deter weeds and keep the soil temperature cooler, mulch between plants. Straw is the traditional strawberry mulch, and it helps to keep tender berries off the soil. Do not use black plastic since it can raise soil temperatures, which will inhibit fruit production.When temperatures dip below freezing, mulch over the strawberry plants with straw to prevent frost injury to the crowns.

To encourage the vigor of new plants and greater berry production in the second year, pinch off all flowers and runners until July 1st for ever-bearing and day neutral varieties, allowing fruit to form late in the season.

For June bearing varieties, pinch off all flowers during the entire first year in the garden, allowing runners to grow. As the runners form, train them along the row, spacing them at least 6 inches apart. Without severing the runner from the mother plant, gently press the runner into the soil. Stabilize it in place with a rock or a small amount of soil until roots are formed.

Pests and Diseases: Horseradish has no serious pest or disease problems.

Photo credit: Anna Strumillo at

Photo credit:  wallygrom on Flickr
Photo credit: wallygrom on Flickr

Companion Plants for Strawberries

Borage: This culinary herbs attract pollinators and predatory insects that prey on strawberry pests. It also has the ability to increase yields, perhaps by adding trace minerals to the soil in which it is planted. And although taste is subjective, it is known to improve the flavor of strawberries near which it is planted.

Bush Beans: Beans attract nitrogen-fixing bacterial that fix nitrogen in the soil, which can improve strawberry growth and yields. They also repel beetles that are pests of strawberries.

Caraway: Caraway attracts parasitic wasps and flies that feed on strawberry pests.

Lupin: Like beans, lupine is a legume that fixes nitrogen in the soil. Its flowers also attract pollinators.


Avoid planting strawberries near members of the cabbage family whose growth may be impaired by close proximity with them.. Members of the cabbage family include: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, radish and arugula.

Strawberry Harvest
Strawberry Harvest

Harvesting & Renovation of Strawberries

Harvest: Harvest when berries are fully ripened on the plants. Cut the stem directly above the berry, being careful not to bruise the tender fruit.

Renovation: Strawberry plant renovation will help to keep them vigorous for up to five years. After the final harvest, mow or cut the strawberry plants down to a height of 2-3 inches, being careful not to damage the crowns. Spread a thick layer of compost, or apply a balanced fertilizer according to the package instructions. Lightly till the area between the rows. Remove older plants, and thin younger plants to 6 inches apart.

Photo credit:

Frozen Strawberries
Frozen Strawberries

How to Freeze Strawberries

To freeze whole or halved strawberries, stem, wash and dry them. Lay them in one layer on a cookie sheet or tray lined with wax paper. Place the tray in the freezer. When the berries are frozen, quickly transfer them to a bag and return them to the freezer.

To sugar pack strawberries, follow the instructions above, adding one step: roll the berries in sugar prior to spreading them out on the cookie sheet.

To pack berries in a light sugar syrup, dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 4 cups of lukewarm water. Cool the syrup in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, stem, wash and cut the berries to the desired size. Pack them in a freezer-safe container and pour the syrup over them, just enough to cover the berries. Leave a 1/2 inch to a 1 inch headspace in the top of the container to allow for expansion of the liquid as it freezes.

For more information, The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service has published a detailed guide to freezing berries and other fruits:

Preserving Food: Freezing Fruit

Photo credit: Setepenra0069 at

Strawberry Jam
Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam Recipe

One of the best ways to preserve strawberries is to make jam. This recipe requires patience, as the berries need to macerate in the fridge overnight. The waiting will be rewarded with a delightfully sweet jam that bursts with strawberry flavor. A hint of mint rounds out and deepens the flavor, and give the jam a unique flair.

The recipe calls for raw or pure cane sugar. Resist the urge to substitute beet sugar, which is a cheaper option. If the sugar package does not specify "cane sugar," the bag probably contains inferior beet sugar, which does not set up as nicely in jam recipes. Use a non-reactive pot, such as ceramic or stainless steel.

I sometimes convert this recipe into strawberry ice cream syrup by using only one packet of pectin. Yum!

Cook Time

Prep Time: 24 hours

Total Time: 1 day, 30 minutes

Serves: Approximately 10 jars


  • 5 -6 pints of strawberries (stemmed and washed)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 7 cups raw or pure cane sugar
  • 2 lemons
  • zested and juiced
  • 2 envelopes of liquid pection (they generally come two to a package)
  • 4 -6 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 10 clean half-pint canning jars or plastic freezer jars and lids


  1. 1. One or two days before you plan to make your jam, roughly chop the berries or whirl them briefly in a food processor. Place them in a non-reactive bowl and cover them with half of the sugar. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the strawberry mixture, or add vanilla extract. Stir, cover the bowl, and place in the fridge to macerate.
  2. 2. Put berries, lemon zest and juice, mint leaves and the remainder of the sugar into a large non-reactive pot and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium high heat for about fifteen minutes, until the fruit cooks down and the mixture begins to thicken.
  3. 3. Remove the mint leaves. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to crush the berries so that about half of the berries are crushed and half are left intact.
  4. 4. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the butter. When the butter has melted, add in the pectin. If any foam forms on top of the jam, skim it off with a spatula or wooden spoon. Boil the jam rapidly for 10 minutes, being watchful so that it does not boil over.
  5. 5. Turn off the heat and lay out your clean jars. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, and then use a wide-mouth funnel or ladle to fill the jars. Immediately, place the lids on them.
  6. 6. Allow the jars to cool to room temperature. The jam will last for several weeks in the fridge, or several months in the freezer.
  7. If you prefer to store jam in the pantry, follow the water bath canning procedures described here.
  8. Photo credit:
Cast your vote for Strawberry Mint Jam

A wide-mouth canning funnel makes filling glass jars much easier, reducing mess and waste.

The jam recipe calls for a vanilla bean, which are extremely expensive at the local grocery store. A much better value is found on Amazon. Qualified orders of $25 or more ship FREE with Amazon Super Saver shipping.

Organic or Traditionally Grown Strawberries?

Strawberries are easy to grow using natural methods in the garden, but not everyone wants to grow their own when they are readily available year-round at the supermarket. Grocery stores generally offer both organically and traditionally grown berries. The term "traditionally" should call to mind age-old natural practices, but in modern times "traditionally" refers to practices commonly used during the last hundred years, during which chemical enhancements have become commonplace. Organic practices that are actually centuries old seem new to many gardeners who are used to growing with commercial pesticides, fertilizers and other chemical enhancements.

According to Eating Well magazine, strawberries are one of fourteen foods that are recommended to be purchased or grown organically due to their high pesticide load. But organic produce tends to be more expensive, causing many people to decide to forgo purchasing it.

What about you? Is the expense for organic strawberries worth it?

Learn More About Growing Strawberries

Learn more about growing strawberries and visit some of the places on the web where this article is posted.

If you have any questions about growing strawberries, ask them here. Feel free to leave comments, tips or suggestions. If you have a related lens or webpage, you can post a link, but kindly link back to this lens from your website.

Questions or Comments about Strawberries?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Looking to grow a few in raised beds this year.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Mine all sit in tubs on a custom-made table inside a big mesh fruit cage. I get lots of fruit each year, planting up new runners and discarding plants older than three years.

    • VioletteRose LM profile image

      VioletteRose LM 

      4 years ago

      I love strawberries, I definitely like to grow them if I can. Thank you so much for sharing this lens!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      4 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Growing up our neighbor grew strawberries, they where the best. Thanks for all of the information. I may have to give this a try.

    • healthtruth lm profile image

      healthtruth lm 

      4 years ago

      Great lens, but now i really want some strawberries :)

    • microfarmproject profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @ecogranny: The alpine mignonettes are small in size, but delicious! But any strawberry variety will be sweeter if you grow them in well-draining soil with plenty of compost and sunlight.

    • ismeedee profile image


      4 years ago

      Great lens! I've been thinking for a long time about growing strawberries. I think my only growing space is too shady so thinking of hanging plants in the conservatory!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      4 years ago from San Francisco

      I would love to know more about the Alpine mignonette heirloom seeds you feature above. Have you grown them? Do they have that wonderful full strawberry flavor I remember so well as a girl picking wild strawberries on the Oregon coast? I realize you can't possibly know what my taste buds signaled to my brain. : ) But I am on a quest to find strawberries that haven't had the juicy, sweet-tart, flavorful goodness hybridized out of them.

      Thank you for doing this page. You provide wonderful information here. For example, I did not realize we should cut strawberries back after the growing season, nor did I know we should not plant where vegetables in the nightshade family had recently grown. Excellent information all round. Thank you.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Interesting and informative lens! Nice!

    • Christine Dever profile image

      Christine Dever 

      4 years ago

      Great lens! Lots of good resources. Thank you!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Love strawberries. Your recipe for jam looks great. Pinning it now.

    • sha-ron profile image


      4 years ago

      I have always been able to grow strawberries. But this year we bought ones with pink flowers, never again, all I got was tiny weeny fruit. Then the heat hit and nearly dried arrangements. Helpful lens

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I love strawberries and after reading this I plan to try to grow my own. Thanks so much for sharing at Transformed Tuesday. I always enjoy your post.


      Peggy~PJH Designs

    • microfarmproject profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @allaneaglesham lm: I use horse manure in my compost, and throw rabbit pellets directly on the berry patch. Good tip!

    • allaneaglesham lm profile image

      allaneaglesham lm 

      5 years ago

      I like the lens but no mention of horse manure as the ultimate strawberry growth accelerator. My grandfather swore by it and grew massive strawberries that tasted good!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very well presented. I love the strawberry. My yard is full of wild strawberries so I get little treats each year and I've even managed to make a jar or two of jam. And I'd love to try planning some container strawberries.

    • Rangoon House profile image


      5 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for the introduction to white strawberries - I am now on the lookout!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You have a great Lens with great info. Makes me really hungry for fresh strawberries. Thanks for sharing all that helpful knowledge.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope you can stop by again this evening!

    • kerilovesadeal profile image


      5 years ago

      My mom's got some strawberry plants that didn't do so well last year. Thanks for the tips! :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My 8 year old started a garden last year and we had tried to plant strawberries, unfortunately we had no clue what we were doing and they never grew. This year I will be using all of your advice and feel confident that we can try again! Thanks for the info and for linking up with Messy Moms Messy Monday.

      Danielle from Messy Moms Radio

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I'm bookmarking your page because I might try growing strawberries in a container this year.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre! Lots of good info here!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)