The strawberries around my little urban farm are growing like gangbusters! I’ve harvested just under 15 pounds so far. It’s not really a surprise considering how I plant strawberries in every empty space around. They obviously spread like wild fire, making the best edible ground cover. I just can’t get enough of them! Today, I offer you a couple simple suggestions for growing strawberries with success!
Select a Sunny Site: Like most edibles in your garden, there are a few fundamentals all berries need to thrive. Berries need access to full sun, which means at least six hours a day. Another very important element is good drainage. Most berry plants are sensitive to soils that remain wet for long periods of time. Planting them in a raised bed can be an easy solution for that. Consistent watering is also critical for big, plump strawberries!
Variety Matters There are three types of strawberries: June-bearers, which produce one big crop a year; Ever-bearers, which produce two crops, one in the summer and one later in the fall; and Day-neutrals, which produce small berries throughout the growing season. The thought of having a continuous harvest always had me choosing day-neutrals in the past, but once I planted a patch full of June-bearing strawberries and reaped a generous harvest of beautiful, ripe berries, I officially became a June-bearing strawberry convert. June-bearing strawberries, especially if you start with a large quantity of plants, will provide you with bigger fruit, a bigger yield, and a crop that has a large quantity of fruit ready at one time.
Go Big! You have to be willing to plant an abundance of berry plants if a bountiful harvest is what you want. They don’t call it a berry patch for nothing! When I plant strawberries, I take advantage of plant sales, like Swanson’s bare root plant sale so I get a lot of bang for my buck. Also, consider using strawberries as a type of groundcover – tuck them into random unused spaces.
Planting Pointers: Berries should be planted in the spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. If the soil is really wet, wait for a few consecutive dry days to dig that hole. A well-maintained strawberry patch will be productive for three to five years. Make sure when you plant them to keep the crown — the place where the foliage begins to grow — level with the soil. The top roots should be just below the soil surface and aiming downward to give them a good start.
Renovate! A June-bearing strawberry patch also benefits greatly from a pruning process called renovation, which should happen soon after your last harvest.
For a Q&A about strawberry patch renovation, click here.