Growing Strawberries – Top 10 Tips

20
September

Strawberries are a wonderful addition to any home garden. They can be grown in a traditional strawberry bed, in hanging planters, or even as groundcover, producing sweet fruit for you and your family to enjoy. Here are the top ten tips for growing strawberries at home.

Choose Plants Wisely

You’ll want to choose virus-free plants from an established supplier. While online nurseries offer a wider selection, local nurseries may have the cultivars that will do best in your environment. Three categories are generally available: June-bearing, ever-bearing, and day-neutral.

Good Sunlight and pH

Pick a location with the best access to direct sunlight and good soil quality. While strawberries can grow in as little as 6 hours of daily sunlight, more sunlight grows better berries. The best soil pH level is between 5.3 and 6.5, though they can grow with levels up to 7.0. You can find soil pH test kits in most garden supply stores.

Good Drainage and Moisture

Strawberries are sensitive to standing water, so your site needs to have adequate drainage. At the same time, strawberries don’t handle drought well; they need 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Your soil should retain moisture. If it doesn’t, add organic material so that it will. Strawberry beds should be located a distance from large trees so that the two won’t compete for water. And for your own sake, choose a location that is easy for you to water manually during drier times.

Previous Plants

Take care where you plant your strawberries. Never plant them where you’ve grown tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, or eggplant for the past three years. Strawberries are susceptible to Verticillium Wilt and those four plants often carry the disease. However, if you must plant them on sites where these vegetables have grown, choose one of the resistant varieties of strawberry, including Earliglow, Allstar, Settler, Tristar, or Tribute. Sites should also be free of weeds and sod as these plants will compete with strawberries and reduce output.

Remove Blossoms

To get bigger and better strawberries, pinch off all the blossoms until June. By that time, the plants’ root system will be strong and you’ll get better berries. This is always true of ever-bearing and day-neutral plants. If you’re growing June-bearing plants, one tip is to remove all the blossoms for the first year; this will increase yields in years thereafter. Strawberry growers can find this difficult, however, so as a half-measure, you can remove most of the blossoms, which will still leave you with a small crop the first year.

Attract Bees

One less well-known tip is to encourage bees to frequent your strawberry plants. Plant other flowering plants nearby, so long as they don’t compete for water. Strawberry blossoms are typically pollinated by the wind, but a Cornell study shows that bees carry more pollen, resulting in bigger berries.

Remove Runners

Runners are daughter-plants produced by the original. June-bearing plants produce many runners and some recommend removing all of them for the first two years so that the plants’ energy goes into producing fruit. Allow each plant to produce at most two runners; as the original plants age and produce less, the runners will replace them. Alpine strawberries don’t produce runners, however. Ever-bearing and day-neutral plants don’t produce as many runners, so you likely won’t have to remove them.

Mulch Diligently

Adding mulch after planting helps keep weeds away, keeps the soil cool, keeps the fruit away from the soil, and helps strawberries make it through the winter. Straw is the traditional strawberry mulch, but people also use pine needles or a mixture of the two. Be careful not to use black plastic since this will raise soil temperatures. When the temperature drops under 20 degrees Fahrenheit, apply about 4 inches of mulch to keep the crowns safe. Refresh the mulch as it breaks down and remove it after the first frosts in spring.

Compost

It’s best to add fertilizer or compost in the late summer or early fall. Apply a balanced, 10-10-10 fertilizer using about one pound per 100 square feet. Fertilize again after harvesting. Be sure to keep watering.

Pick Carefully

Strawberries are sweetest when they ripen on the vine. Leave the berries on the plant for one or two days after they’ve turned a deep red. Remove by snapping the stem just above the berry. Renovate the plot after harvesting and plants should keep producing for 5 years.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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