Fruits such as strawberries are just as easy to grow as vegetables in a garden. You can plant your strawberries in a formal bed, or use them as a ground cover. There are three main types of strawberries you must choose from when you want to start a new crop. The first type is known as “June Bearing” strawberries, and these plants will produce fruit in the late spring. Generally this type of strawberry ripens in a two to three week window. The next type of strawberry is known as “Ever Bearing” strawberries, and they produce fruit in both the spring and the fall. Finally the third type of strawberry is known as “Day Neutral”. These type of strawberries produce fruit throughout the entire growing season.
Strawberries do best with full sunlight and need a minimum of six hours a day of sun. The more sun your fruit receives the larger the crop will be, and the quality will be better as well. Strawberries need a well drained soil, and sometimes like a sandy soil. Strawberries prefer the soil pH to be between 5.3 and 6.5. It is advisable to test your soil with a soil testing kit or have your soil analyzed by your local county agricultural agency. Since strawberries can get Verticillium wilt they should not be planted where either tomatoes or peppers were recently planted.
June bearing strawberries are best planted in what is known as a matted row system. Here plants are set in the ground 2 feet apart, and then in rows 3 feet apart. This allows the strawberries to send runners freely through the free space. Keep in mind that June bearing strawberries don’t bear fruit until the second year. The Hill system of planting strawberries is used for day neutral and everbearing varieties. You should set your rows to be about 8 inches high and about 24 inches wide. The plants are set in the ground about 12 inches apart, and should be set in rows. With these types of plants you should remove the runners the first year so you can bear fruit. As time passes the strawberry plants are less productive. Therefore they need to be replaced after about three years of production.
Strawberries can be planted in the spring right after the danger of your last frost. If the plant you are setting in the ground have any root damage, they should be trimmed prior to planting. If the plants have any flowers they should be removed as well. Set the plants in the ground with the roots pointing down, and spread the root system out. The crown of the strawberry should be set so the midpoint is just even with the surface of the soil. If the plant is set too deep it may rot.
Strawberries need to be properly watered, yet not overwatered. Make sure you water your plants in the morning so that the sun can dry the leaves, thus preventing diseases. Black plastic should not be used as a mulch for strawberries, as this raises the soil temperature, and strawberries don’t like an elevated soil temperature. Remember to fertilize your strawberries for the best possible crop. It is best to fertilize just after the plants are set in the ground, and also after the fruit is harvested. When picking your strawberries use a delicate hand, as the fruit is soft and will tend to bruise rather easily.