It’s that time of year! Strawberry season. Strawberries is one of my favorite fruits. A few years back I got fed up paying over $6 for a quart, only to find some rotted or turned within a day or two. So I decided to try and grow my own. This allowed me to not only learn about growing berries, but to be self-reliant, to grow my own food naturally, and to save money. Growing your own berries are a thousand times tastier than store bought and are very in-expensive to grown. Strawberries are grow just about anywhere, no matter where you live, in a full fledge garden or in containers as a quick small-space solution.
Once I decided to grow strawberries, I looked into some ideas and came across a pyramid style bed. In the end, I decided to go big by building a 10 X 10 pyramid raised bed (10 X 10, 7 X 7, 3 X 3). Our initial planting consisted of over 90 plants.
So let’s talk about growing strawberries!
Types of strawberries. There are a few types of strawberries you can choose from. Each type varies in their growth habits and fruiting times. The two most popular types are June-bearing and Ever-bearing.
June-bearing strawberries produce their crop over a period of three weeks, on average. Most June bearing strawberry varieties produce a harvest around the month of June, hence the name. They typically produce the largest strawberries. Because of their earliness, high quality and concentrated fruit set, June-bearers are the best for preserving.
Ever-bearing strawberries, also known as day-neutral strawberries, produce a heavy set of berries in early summer followed by additional sets in late summer and fall.
My patch currently consists of June-bearing plants. Planting both types will provide you strawberries throughout the summer.
When should you plant? Growing strawberries requires sun and acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8. Plant strawberries as early as six weeks before your last frost. If needed, use row covers or some other production to protect from extreme cold and wind. Another great option is to set out plants in the fall. Strawberries are perennials and will come back year after year.
How to Plant. Make sure that the location where you will be planting gets plenty of sun. When you purchase your strawberry plant, you have a central plant. Transplant individual plants to the same depth they grew in their containers. Find the central crown, and transplant so the base of the crown rests at the soil line and the roots are spread out. Mulch between the strawberry plants.
Growing Tips. Once planted, there are a few things to keep in mind. My first year, I got very few strawberries. Do not be surprised if this happens to you. Make sure that you pick off flowers that form on June-bearing plants during their first season. For Ever-bearing plants, pinching off the first flowers can lead to better production of later-ripening, more intensely flavored fruits.
If you want a ton of berries, then you will need to pinch the runners. When you purchase your strawberry plant(s), you have a central plant. As it grows it produces runners. Runners are the long stems that run off the central plant and create baby strawberry plants. These baby strawberry plants deplete the nutrients out of the central plant causing the original plant will lose its ability to produce fruit. If you choose not to pinch the runners, no foul, as strawberries will grow, just not to the same level quantity-wise of those that have been pinched.
Pest Prevention. Snails, slugs, birds and turtles love strawberries. If you see chewed round holes or little bites, then you have some visitors. To control the situation, handpick your berries as soon as they are ripe. To prevent birds from stealing the berries, cover your patch with netting just before the first berries ripen.
Harvesting and storing your strawberries. Pick your strawberries in the cool of the morning. When picking your berries, pick them with a little stub of green stem attached and refrigerate immediately. Right before eating, wash the strawberries under cool running water and remove the stems. If you will be preserving/canning the berries, do so within three days for optimal color and flavor.
In my opinion, growing strawberries is an easy and great addition to any garden, large or small. There is nothing like home grown strawberries. So why not give it a try?
Send us pictures of your strawberry patch, plant or harvest!