How to Grow Strawberries
Tips on Growing Strawberries In Your Garden
Few things beat the taste of fresh strawberries from the garden. From the moment you bring that shiny nugget of goodness close to your mouth to the moment it touches your tongue and taste buds, the burst of flavor you taste cannot compare to anything you purchase from the grocery store.
Strawberries are relatively easy to grow and they don't take a lot of space. In fact, you can grow strawberries in a variety of ways like a hanging planter, a strawberry planter, in a separate bed, or in a raised garden bed. Here are suggestions to help you decide how to grow your own strawberries.
Check out the two recipes near the end of the this article using our garden fresh strawberries.
Varieties of Strawberries
Your Basic Choices
There are three basic types of strawberries to choose from: June Bearing, Everbearing and Day Neutral.
June Bearing strawberries are very popular because they produce basically one large crop each spring in a short two to three week period. There are several varieties of them, broken out into early, mid-season and late types. They are the favorite because they generally bear the largest fruits. However, these plants produce the most runners, so they also need the most space.
Everbearing strawberries have bursts of production two to three periods throughout the year. The name is slightly misleading.
Day Neutral strawberries will produce more continuously throughout the growing season. Everbearing and day neutral strawberries are preferred for smaller spaces, the tradeoff is smaller fruits.
Where to Plant Strawberries
Garden or Container
It has become very popular to grow strawberries in some type of container. You can also grow strawberries in a hanging basket or container on the ground. In particular, a self watering container is a great way to grow them on your patio, or even for apartment living you can turn your balcony into your garden.
For the gardener with room in the back yard, strawberries are set in a bed of some sort. Since they are usually grown as perennials (sometimes in southern areas they are grown as annuals), you need to set aside a bed for them to be grown in for at least 3 to 4 years.
There are about 3 different bedding approaches that vary with the type of strawberry variety that is being grown. These include:
Matted Row Systems
Used for June-bearing cultivars, the strawberry plants are spaced eighteen to thirty inches apart.
This keeps a smaller number of daughter plants that come from the mother plants. which are set 18 to 30 inches apart. The daughter plants are kept at least four inches apart, with any other daughter plants removed.
Preferred for day-neutral and everbearing strawberries. No daughter plants are kept, only the original plants, which encourages more growth in the original plants.
For the patio gardener, you can find pots that have plenty of room for many plants and sit on your patio or balcony.
Preparing the Soil for Strawberry Plants
Mulching Strawberries Is Very Important
Prepare the soil with a generous 2 or 3 inches of compost. Remember that strawberry plants are perennials, so you don't get another chance to prepare the soil for a few years.
Work in about one pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer for each 100 square feet, and water in thoroughly.
Set the plants so the crow is just at ground level (assuming you are planting bare root plants, otherwise just keep the same soil level as the potted plant you are transplanting.)
Mulch is a key component of a strawberry bed because you can't just till the bed under every year. We use leaves that have been put though the shredder. Straw is another good type of mulch. Put down a layer of 2-3 inches to help keep the weeds down, which will help keep the fruit off the soil. The mulch layer will also help keep the soil temperature cool for good production. You may consider planting your strawberries in a raised garden bed.
Our early spring project a few years ago was to create a new strawberry bed because we had started asparagus in the strawberry bed and since the asparagus did so well, it was interfering with the berries; thus a solo strawberry bed. We also transplanted the plants that were established in addition to filling in with new ones.
Hanging Strawberry Planter
Hanging Strawberry Plants
There are a variety of ways to grow strawberries without a garden bed which is great news for people living in apartments, condos, or town homes to enjoy the taste of home grown strawberries. You can use a container to grow them, and it's particularly easy to grow them in a self watering container like the Earth Box system, but even that requires some floor space that may not be available if you want to grow plants on the balcony or patio.
There are several types of hanging planters that can be used to grow strawberries. One popular grow kit includes not only the planter but the strawberry plants to get you going right away.
Choose the appropriate variety for your container. Since a container won't allow the normal style of growing strawberries, where the runners are encouraged to grow and root to start new plants every year, it would be best to grow one of the Everbearing variety of strawberries, as opposed to Junebearing strawberries as these don't try to put out as many runners. And you should prune off the runners that are sent out, which will encourage the plants to produce more berries.
With a hanging strawberry planter, you can enjoy strawberries regardless of where you live.
Upside Down Strawberry Planter
Originally known as the Topsy Turvy Strawberry planter, it has been renamed since the inventors at Felknor Ventures have sold the marketing rights of this planter to another company.
This hanging strawberry planter allows you to plant up to 15 individual plants. It hangs in a fashion similar to the original Topsy Turvey Tomato Planter, but the plants are actually embedded in the side of the planter, so the strawberries are not actually upside down, but they hang sidewards, with the new growth hanging down.
This is a great solution for growing plants on the balcony, but as with most of these hanging planters, especially for this one with a lot of plants, these need to be hung from a strong support of some sort, as they get to weighing a lot with all the soil and especially water once they growth gets under way.
Any of these make a great solution to growing strawberries in your balcony or patio. And once you've tasted fresh strawberries from your garden, you'll wonder why you didn't try it before.
Strawberries contain flavonoids. Dip them in melted dark chocolate and you get a healthy double dose!
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Now that you've got strawberries growing in your garden bed or in your containers, you'll need a way to use them! This is a very popular recipe that everyone should have.
- 1 2/3 cups (10-ounce package) Hershey's White Chips
- 2 tablespoons shortening (no butter - margarine - spread - or oil)
- 1 cup Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 4 cups (2 pints) fresh strawberries rinsed patted dry and chilled
- Cover tray with wax paper.
- Place white chips and 1 tablespoon shortening in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high (100%) 1 minute; stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. If necessary, microwave on high an additional 10 seconds at a time, just until smooth when stirred.
- Holding the berry by the top (green leaves), dip 2/3 of each strawberry into white chip mixture; shake gently to remove excess. Place on prepared tray; refrigerate until coating is firm, as least 30 minutes.
- Repeat microwave procedure with chocolate chips (I prefer dark chocolate) In a clean microwave-safe bowl. Dip lower 1/3 of each berry into chocolate mixture. Refrigerate on tray until firm. Enjoy!
Using Fresh Strawberries - A Wholesome Breakfast or Snack
Our garden strawberries tend to be a bit smaller than those you purchase at the store but they are way more delicious! Here is a great breakfast or healthy snack dish.
Greek yogurt (I use Fage) sprinkled with shelled walnuts (from my father-in-law), drizzled with locally grown honey (from our Farmers Market) and topped with fresh strawberries (compliments of our garden).
Every bite is healthy and tastes that way!