I love fresh strawberries from the garden as a snack, or to put in my salad. Strawberry shortcake, strawberry shakes, and oh so many uses for strawberries. Follow these simple tips for growing strawberries, and you’ll be eating fresh strawberries in no time. Strawberries fresh from the garden taste much better than the ones you purchase in the store because the sugar turns to starch soon after picking. So eat yours fresh, or freeze some for eating later. You can wash the berries, cut the leaves off and place them whole on a baking sheet for freezing overnight. Once they are frozen, place in a zip-lock bag. Berries can stay in the freezer for up to a year. I guarantee you they won’t last that long.
Depending on what source you read, there are either two or three varieties of strawberries.
- June Bearing Varieties: This variety of strawberry produces their fruit all at once over a period of a few weeks. If you like to grow strawberries for jam or jellies this is the best choice. They produce larger berries and a larger crop than the other two varieties. If June bearers are planted in the spring, you will have to wait until the next year for a crop. They set their buds in the fall, and flowers and fruit the next spring. In areas with a milder winter they can be planted in the fall. June bearing varieties produce more runners, so you will need to space those about 12-24 inches apart. Remove the flowers the first year to encourage the plants to establish good root systems.
- You can also eliminate all but 3-4 runners. The runners will establish new plants for you that can be transplanted to a new bed the next spring.
- Everbearing Varieties: This strawberry variety bears their biggest crop in the summer, and then a steady smaller crop through fall. They do not produce as many runners or berries as June bearing varieties. Remove the blooms and berries until June to encourage the plants to put their energy into become established.
- Day Neutral: You sometimes see this term interchanged with everbearing because they produce a steady crop throughout the growing season. They do not produce as many as the June bearing varieties.
If you have enough room, you could plant both varieties to have a larger berry from the June-bearers that will produce a large crop in the summer, and an everbearing or day neutral variety for a smaller continuous harvest until fall.
- Plant in an area that gets full sun at least 6 hours a day, put preferably 8 or more. Soil must drain well and should be amended with compost.
- You can purchase either bare root plants or plants in containers. Bare root plants will be less expensive, but you get a jump start on the season by buying container plants.
For bare root plants, dig a whole large enough that the roots can extend. (You can trim the long roots before planting) Then cover the roots just below the crown. Plant container plants the same depth as the container they came in, again not burying the crown.
- Mulch with a layer of straw to conserve moisture and keep berries out of the soil.
- Monitor for slugs which are pests to strawberries. You can buy slug traps and fill with beer, or sink a small bowl into the ground to trap and kill them.
- I like to mix fertilizer in my new garden bed before planting. I use an organic fertilizers that is made for berries such as Fox Farm Happy Frog Organic Fertilizer for Acid Loving Plants. You can also use on your blueberries, azaleas, and other acid loving plants. If the berries are June bearing, you can fertilize in early spring, and then again after they are harvested.
- For everbearing varieties, fertilize in the spring with an organic fertilizer.
- Transplant any “baby plants” from the main plant in a separate bed or containers. Strawberry beds should be rotated to prevent soil borne diseases. The main plants will need to be replaced every 3-4 years.
- Cover your plants with bird netting once berries start to develop. They love berries as much as we do!
Need a couple of recipes for all those strawberries you will be harvesting. Watch these strawberry videos from my friends “Cooking with Moe and Deb” on You-tube. Strawberry jelly, and strawberry milkshakes!
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Keep all your recipes handy using this Printable Strawberry Recipe Card