How to Grow Strawberries | Guide to Growing Strawberries

 
How to Grow Strawberries | Guide to Growing Strawberries  

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The fragrantly sweet juiciness and deep red color of strawberries can brighten up both the taste and aesthetics of any meal; it is no wonder they are the most popular berry fruit in the world. Although strawberries have become increasingly available year-round, they are at the peak of their season from April through July when they are the most delicious and most abundant.

 
   
 

Seeds or Seedlings

2 to 8 weeks, 65-75F

2 Years

Loose, Well drained

Full Sun

1/4"

1' to 2' apart

30 to 45 days

Growing Guide
GROWING NOTES
The small seeds should not be buried too deeply-when sowing cover with a light dusting of soil, approximately ⅛" or less. Keep the soil well-moistened and moderately warm (between 60-75 degrees F), which should occur between 14-21 days.

 

Choosing a Site
Well drained, sandy loam with a pH from 5.8 to 6.2 is ideal.

 

Don't plant where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplant have been grown recently (Verticillium Rot)

 

Strawberries require a loose, loamy, slightly acidic soil (pH 6.0-6.5) and full sun to achieve peak berry quality, but they will tolerate a variety of soil conditions as long as they have adequate drainage. Prepare your strawberry beds by turning under 1/2"-1" high quality, animal manure or plant residue-based compost. Compost composed of cedar or redwood is not an acceptable substitute for high quality compost. Also it is a great idea to lay mulching film on the soil as it greatly reduces the need for weeding.

 

Planting Strawberries If you are not ready to plant your strawberries when they arrive, you can store them in a refrigerator for a few days, keeping them damp (but not soggy!). When you are ready to plant, put the transplants in a bucket of water for a few minutes to rehydrate them and to keep them from drying out in the wind and sun.

 

Dig each hole deep enough so that the transplant roots will not be bent or "j-rooted" when covered with soil. Next, prepare a soil cone at the bottom of the hole for the roots to rest upon when buried, keeping the roots as straight as possible. Finally, fill the hole with loose soil, keeping the upper crown bud at or slightly above the soil line, as plants will die if the crowns are completely covered. Once planted, strawberries will spread by producing "runners" where leaf cluster tips touch the ground.

MAINTAINING
Give all strawberry varieties 1" of water per week, preferably using drip-type irrigation to minimize berry spoilage and keep the beds thoroughly weeded! After the first frost, mulch beds with straw or agricultural fabrics. Where snow remains on the ground throughout the Winter, no mulching is required. When the ground warms in Spring, remove any organic mulches, but leave agricultural fabrics on until the first flowers appear; fabrics will speed growth but prevent pollination if left on during blossoming.

 

All strawberry varieties are prone to diseases caused by overly moist soil conditions and overcrowding. Soil must be kept loose and well drained, plants must be properly spaced and ripe or moldy fruit picked daily. Snails and slugs can be a significant problem, but are contrulled using traps and copper strip-barriers. Netting, scare ballons and flash tape work very well against birds.

 

Spring Bearers generally produce a single large crop in Spring to early Summer, as early as March in warmer regions such as Southern California and Florida. They are prolific producers for 3 to 4 weeks, and are a good choice for growers who want to limit their growing season for marketing or home processing reasons.

 

Since Spring Bearers spread their runners very rapidly, many growers consider the "matted row method" to be the most effective means of propagation. Rows are spaced 1'-2' apart with berry plants spaced at 1'. Plants are then allowed to "runner" freely in all directions, creating larger rows centered on the original mother plants, all flowers are removed for the first 4 months of growth to allow for maximum runner spread. A post-harvest regime of mowing plants down to 2-1/2" and tilling to within 1" of the original row will extend bed life for up to 3 years. Tilling up the original row, and leaving second or third generation plants to form new rows can extend bed life even longer.

 

Ever Bearers are most productive in northern areas where Summer brings extended daylight hours. These varieties are not as prolific as Spring Bearers but are especially suitable for growers who wish to harvest a constant supply of berries throughout the Summer.

 

Space Ever Bearing varieties in rows 30" apart with plant spacing at 12". Remove the 1st set of flowers after planting, and pull up all runners throughout Spring and Summer to increase fruit production. Keeping these varieties trimmed of old, decaying foliage will allow better air circulation across the bed and result in high berry quality. Allow runners to develop in the second season to establish a new generation of plants; production of the original mother plants will decrease after the second season. After the second year's harvest, pull out the mother plants, leaving only new plants spaced on the original bedding plan.

 

Day Neutral (Ever Bearing) strawberries bear fruit from late Winter until early Fall in temperate areas, and from early Summer until the first frost in cold climates. These varieties are very prolific but are also more temperamental about their growing conditions than the other varieties; they fare poorly against heat, dry soil and competition from weeds. Growers willing to pamper Day Neutral berries will be rewarded with months of production. Since Day Neutral varieties send out few runners, they should be propagated the same way as Ever Bearers.
 

 
   
 
 
   
 

Harvesting Guide
HARVESTING
Strawberries are their sweetest when fully ripened on the plants. For most varieties this means leaving the berries on the plant for a day or two after they are fully colored. The only way to know for sure is a taste test.

Strawberries bruise easily. Be gentle when pulling them from the plants. Snap the stem directly above the berry rather than pulling on the berry itself. Keep harvested berries in a cool, shady location.

SAVING SEEDS
Strawberry seeds are easily separated from ripe fruit by placing them in a household blender with a cup of water and blending at high speed for just a few seconds. (Not too long, or the seeds may be damaged). The good seeds will settle to the bottom, and the fruit pulp and unripe seeds will float. Wait a minute or so for the seeds to settle, and pour off the liquid. The seeds can then be rinsed or scraped out and allowed to dry on a paper towel.
 

 
     
 
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