The typical way of growing strawberries is from transplants of known varieties with excellent growth records. The strawberry is not strictly a fruit but a member of the rose family.
It could be called the inside out fruit because its seeds grow on the outside. Strawberries were considered an aphrodisiac in the Middle Ages and traditionally served with borage and cream in a soup to newlyweds for breakfast.
Recommended Strawberry Varieties
Tioga, Dover, and Douglas are successful varieties of strawberries in the South. In the Northern states, Allstar and Delmarvel are highly recommended for disease resistance and growing large berries.
Day neutral and ever bearing are ideal types for gardeners with limited gardening space. By growing strawberries suggested for your area, production can extend from early winter through spring and that makes almost each variety ever bearing.
In Southern US, the planting schedule for strawberries is September-November. Young strawberry plants begin arriving at garden centers from Northern producers during early fall months.
Strawberry plants tolerate frosts and freezes. Flowers and fruit escape damage only during light frosts. In the north, planting generally begins in early spring.
An ideal method to grow strawberries is in raised beds. Although, the fruit can be grown sufficiently at ground level, raised beds allow for increased production and provide extra drainage for plants that are prone to rot.
For growing strawberries in raised beds, mound the soil six inches high along the edge and eight inches high in the middle.
Set plants in double rows. Start a row of strawberries six inches from the edge of the bed and space plants twelve inches apart.
Fan out roots; be careful not to crumple them. Try to set plants at the original growing depth. Cover roots but leave crown fully exposed.
Do not plant herbs such as lavender or sage nearby because growing strawberries will fail grown in the company of plants that give off strong-smelling oil.
- Days to harvest from transplants are 90-110.
- Spacing in inches between planted rows is 36-40.
- Leave a space between plants of 10-14 inches.
- Plant 20 plants per person for a plentiful harvest.
- Make strawberry patches two feet wide and two feet apart.
How to Fertilize Strawberry Plants
Combine two and a half pounds of 6-6-6 fertilizer for each one hundred square feet of garden space. Place an additional 2 pounds of fertilizer to 100 running feet- six inches deep along the center of the beds. This is ample fertilization for strawberries raised as annuals.
Growing and Caring For Strawberries
Moisten soil and mulch. Straw, pine needles, and compost are good organic mulching materials. Black plastic can also be used. Keep soil moist.
Water new plants as needed to prevent wilting. Established growing strawberries can be watered every two to three days. Newly planted strawberries can be protected from summer heat with fiber row covers.
Strawberry Plant Pest and Diseases
Caterpillars, slugs, thrips, mites, snails, leaf spot, and fruit rot. Anticipate insect, leaf spot, and fruit rot problems. Apply pest controls early to avoid harvesting pesticide treated fruit. Due to frequent pests, most Southern growers remove plants after fruiting and replant beds in the fall.
For gardeners who dislike using pesticides during harvest time, there are natural methods to rid the garden of insects without using harsh chemicals.
Insecticidal soaps destroy most bugs on contact before they make a picnic out of your berries. Bacillus thuringiensis controls many types of caterpillars. Slugs can be coaxed to a container of stale beer set near the growing strawberries. Happy hour 2-4!
Spray early in the season to prevent insect populations before harvesting begins. Use pesticides when the pests are first noticed, up until harvest, then stop spraying while the berries are ripening.
Summer weather is often difficult on strawberries, with crops easily affected by crown rot, viruses, and nematodes. Some gardeners persist through the hot humid months to produce crops for another year. In the south, plants are typically plowed under when the season ends.
How to Harvest Growing Strawberries
Strawberries are one of the first fruits harvested in the garden. Pick the delicious prized fruit when fully ripened red but still firm.
Harvest every day during peak production times to beat birds and insects to the crop. In the Northern US, strawberry beds are allowed to continue growing after harvesting and use the young shoots for transplants.
The growing strawberries carried over at season’s end will need additional feedings at six to eight week intervals.
Use a 6-6-6 or similar product at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet of garden space. Watch for leaf spot, rot, and insect infestation that may require pest control in summer and early fall.