The dirt on strawberries

strawberry plants - TheFarmersInTheDell.comStrawberries are a new addition to my garden.  They’re something I’ve always wanted to plant, but never had the room until this year.  I was also a little intimidated about growing them.  It seemed complicated.  A little research proved they were as easy to grow as my other garden plants.  You just need ROOM.

There are three types of strawberry plants:

  • June-bearing – which are the most widely grown strawberry, produce only one crop per year; however, they are extremely productive and bear large, firm berries.
  • Everbearing – usually produce 2 -3 harvests a year, once in the spring or early summer and then again in late summer or early fall.  If the weather is favorable, you may get a third crop in between growing seasons.
  • Day-neutral – these are similar to everbearing strawberries, but the plants do not depend on the length of the day for producing berries.  These plants will produce fruit throughout the growing season as long as the weather is good.

I planted the june-bearing and everbearing varieties.  I didn’t plant the day-neutral variety simply because I couldn’t find them in my area.

Planting strawberries is pretty straight forward:

  • 12 – 18 inches apart in the row
  • 3 – 4 feet between rows
  • Avoid covering the crowns of the plant with soil
  • Mulch with a layer of straw
  • Avoid planting strawberries in areas where potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants were previous grown.

strawberries -

The care of the plants is also easy:

All types of strawberry plants will need 1-2 inches of water a week.  To avoid leaf burn, do not fertilize until the plants are well established or about 6-7 weeks after the planting date. Then I fertilize once a week with Miracle-Gro Liquid Feed (the bottle system that hooks right to the hose).

  • June-bearing strawberries – pinch off all the flower buds during the first year of growth. This will help encourage runner growth, which will help fill in the strawberry rows.  Allow 2-3 runners to grow off the main plant.  Evenly space the runners and gently press them into the soil.  Cut off any additional runners that form during the first year.
    •  A process called “renovation” will have to be performed on the strawberries after the SECOND growing year.  Immediately after harvest, cut off the all the leaves and stems of the plant, leaving the plant about 2-3 inches tall.
    • Narrow the edges of the beds so the rows are about 14-18 inches wide.
    • If the bed is crowed, you will need to remove some plants – usually the older ones or those not well established.
    • Side-dress the strawberries in July and August with 1 lb of Triple 10 (10-10-10) for approximately every 100 sq ft.
  • Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries – pinch off all the flower buds during the first 3 weeks of growth during the establishment year.  Remove all the runners during the first year of growth.  Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries DO NOT need renovation.

Once the growing season is over, and the plants begin to go dormant after a few frosts, they will need to be covered with 4-5 inches of straw, especially if you live in an area with cold winters, like I do.  Remove the mulch in early spring before the plants start to flower.  Be sure to re-cover them if there is a frost predicted.


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