Strawberries in Your Garden

Strawberries in Your Garden

Growing strawberries in the garden is probably one of the easiest fruits to grow and will provide you harvests for a several years. Strawberries should produce about a quart of berries per plant every year as long as they have the right conditions for growing.  There are generally three types of strawberry plants to choose from and they are Day Neutral, June Bearing, and the Everbearing.

Day Neutral strawberries continue to give you fruit all during the growing season and have only a few runners. These berries and the Everbearing variety are a good choice if you are limited on space in your garden. The only difference is that the fruit is usually smaller than June Bearing strawberries. Some of the Day Neutral varieties include a California bred called Seascape that has been bred to do quite well throughout the United States.

The Tristar and Tribute do very well in colder climate zones; Tristar has a great flavor and Tribute has larger fruit.

The June Bearing variety produces a sizable single crop every year during the spring in a 2 – 3 week time period. They generally produce a single blooming of flowers that have many runners. June Bearing is categorized in three groups; early, middle, and late season variety. This class of strawberry produces the largest fruit. Some of the June Bearing plants include Annapolis which is a mid-season variety with good flavor and large berries; Allstar is a late season variety with a sweet, mild flavor; and Chandler which has shown an ability to grow on the East Coast particularly the southern regions, which produces a large berry with a high yield.

The Everbearing strawberry will produce two to three harvests periodically during the seasons of spring, summer, and fall. This variety of fruit will not produce very many runners. A couple Everbearing varieties include Fort Laramie which produces a wonderful quality of fruit and Quinault which produces fast, generally about four to five weeks, with another good quality fruit.

A good place to have a strawberry patch is in a sandy well drained loam which has a pH level between 5.8 and 6.2 that gets full sun. You should not plant strawberries in the same bed that had tomatoes, peppers or eggplant the year before. These crops along with potatoes can carry verticillium which is a root rot fungus that can attack strawberry plants. You can plant a strawberry patch in spring or in late fall. Always purchase disease-free plants that have large crowns and a healthy root system. You also want to mix about 2 inches of compost into the soil before planting and try to keep a weed free environment for the plants; strawberries do not like competing with weeds.

Planting and caring for strawberries is fairly easy. Just make sure you do not bury the root crown. Depending on the variety of strawberry you plant they can spread with a number of runners that run across the soil. You need to water them regularly and remove dead leaves when you see them. If your patch is planted in the ground and not in a raised bed the only problem you may have is with slugs; if they do attack just use crushed eggshells as mulch, slugs cannot move on them. The only other problem will be those birds eating the strawberries first; garden netting can be used to spread over the top of your plants to prevent them from getting there first.

Your plants should be planted about twelve inches apart. During their first year pinch off the flowers, this will give them the opportunity to develop into a full bodied plant. The second year you can begin to enjoy harvesting and eating the fruit. Because the June Bearing strawberry has so many runners, which are actually young plants that can root, you will end up with a large healthy patch. The Day Neutral and Everbearing do not have as many of these runners. Whichever variety you decide to plant just remember to thin out some of the runners or may have way too many plants that will not produce well. It is always better to have a good quality fruit coming from your strawberries.

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