While easy to grow, when compared to other berries, strawberries can be a high maintenance food crop.
The best time to plant is in late summer or spring. Plants perform best in full sun or dappled shade, and in somewhat sandy or loose soil. The addition of manure and a balanced fertilizer will ensure strong growth. Fiber mats, newspaper, or straw mulch placed under each plant will protect fruits from touching the ground, and will act as a weed barrier.
Strawberries are tough and will survive many conditions, but, during fruit formation, moisture is vital, especially if growing in containers. Regular watering is needed so that the shallow root system does not suffer stress. Established plants should be replaced every three years or sooner if there are any signs of disease.
Strawberries have a cool temperate climate preference. Temperatures of 50-80° F are best for most strawberries as they have a relatively low optimal temperature for growth and fruiting compared to other fruit crops. Although the ever-bearing cultivars will continue to flower at warmer temperatures, fruit quality decreases as temperatures increase during the summer months. Short days and cool temperatures favor reproductive growth, whereas long days and warm temperatures favor leaf and runner production.
Set plants out as early as possible in the spring. Soak plants in water a few minutes before planting and space 12-18” apart. Plants prefer organically rich, sandy or loose soil that drains well. Strawberry plants do not like to sit in water. Dig a hole large enough to encompass the roots without bending or circling. Set the plant in place so the crown (part of the plant where the root meets the stem) is level with the soil surface and water thoroughly. Apply fertilizer after growth begins.
Space runner plants 4-6” apart. If allowed, the runners will form a mat 12-15” out from the “mother’ plant that will discourage weed formation. Although strawberries are adapted to cool climates, they are sensitive to winter freezing. Crowns are killed at 10-20° F. For winter protection, cover plants with straw or leaves 6-8” deep to shield them from winter weather after the temperature has fallen to about 20° F. Don’t forget to remove this covering in the spring once growth begins! Some gardeners recommend that the bed should be replaced every 2-3 years as quality and yield begin to decrease.
The roots near the stem should be about one-quarter of an inch under the soil to prevent the strawberry plant from drying out.
Avoid planting sites where strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers have been grown the last two years to prevent possible root disease problems.
Don’t use fresh chicken, horse or cow manure to fertilize or prepare the soil. It burns the strawberry plants.
Strawberries fragaria × ananassa
Allstar Strawberry Perennial. June bearing mid-late season variety.
Vigorous plants. Hardy and easy to grow. Glossy red, firm fruit with
exceptional flavor. Dense foliage lasts well into the winter making
an excellent groundcover. Grown from non-organic bare root stock.
Eversweet Strawberry Perennial. Ever-bearing early-mid season variety.
Produces continuously through the growing season. Tolerates warm
temperatures without loss of fruit quality. Outstanding flavor. Works well in
containers and hanging baskets. Grown from non-organic bare root stock.
Ft. Laramie Strawberry Perennial. Ever-bearing mid-season variety. Hardy.
Withstands hard winters without mulch. Produces numerous runners, blooms &
fruit simultaneously. Very aromatic, large crops of firm, bright red, juicy berries.
Good in hanging baskets or hydroponic growing. Excellent for fresh eating, freezing
and preserving. Grown from non-organic bare root stock.
Ozark Beauty Strawberry Perennial. Ever-bearing mid-late season. Famous
for large yields of bright red, unusually large berries. Vigorous plants with a deep root
system that thrives in most soils. High sugar content and excellent flavor. Best when used
for: fresh eating, canning, making strawberry jam/jelly, freezing, or for use strawberry
recipes. Grown from non-organic bare root stock.
Strawberry culture –
Strawberries are grown for their beautiful, bright red fruit. They can be eaten either fresh or in prepared foods such as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice creams, and milkshakes. Berries not eaten fresh can be readily frozen or preserved. Besides being an excellent dessert fruit, strawberries are low in calories and are a good source of vitamin C (1/2 cup is about 25 calories and fills an adult’s daily need for vitamin C).
The first garden strawberry was grown in France during the late 18th century. Prior to this, wild strawberries and cultivated selections from wild strawberry species were the common source of the fruit.
Often grouped according to their flowering habit and season of ripening, strawberry cultivars vary widely in size, color, flavor, shape. Traditionally, this has consisted of a division between “June-bearing” strawberries, which bear their fruit in the early summer and “ever-bearing” strawberries, which often bear several crops of fruit throughout the growing season.
Plants are propagated from runners. Because strawberry plants more than a year or two old begin to decline in productivity and fruit quality, a system of replacing the plants each year allows for improved yields and denser plantings. Popular methods used by gardeners make use of a mounding system or row system that allows the new runners to replace the “mother” plants for the following growing season. Strawberries also perform well in pots.
“June- bearing” strawberries are sensitive to the length of day and send out runners in spring as day length increases. To maximize yields, keep runners down to 2-3 per plant. This allows more energy for fruit formation. Five-petaled white flowers with yellow centers appear on the plants in early spring. Easy to grow with large red berries that mature in late spring to early summer. For June-bearing strawberries, flowers should be removed and fruit should be foregone in the first year to maximize plant health and future yields. These varieties bear fruit one year after planting. If planted in the Fall, the plants may bear the following spring.
“Ever-bearing” strawberries deliver fruit all summer, with a large initial harvest and a steady crop the rest of the season. Like June- bearers, they are very easy to grow and will do well most anywhere. Plant both June-bearers and ever-bearers for a constant supply of fresh fruit all summer. If planted in the Spring, these varieties will bear at the end of the first summer.