Strawberries grow quickly, producing a quart of berries per plant in the first growing season. They require little care or chemicals, making them perfect for the home garden. Strawberries come in three varieties. Ever-bearing strawberries produce two small harvests in late spring and fall, June-bearing plants produce one large harvest in late spring, and day-neutral plants produce fruit all growing season. Knowledge of how to grow these plants will help you keep them healthy and vigorous.
Choose a site to plant the strawberries with full sun and fertile, well-drained soil four to six months before planting. Place a sample of the soil in a container and bring it to your local extension office. Have them test it and make sure the pH lies between 5.5 and 6.5.
Clear the area of any weeds and grasses. Amend the soil if the pH is low, mixing dolomite lime into the dirt. Follow the directions on the package for application amounts and instructions. It will take four to six months for the lime to change the acidity of the soil.
Obtain certified disease-free strawberry plants from a reputable nursery. Make sure the variety you choose will grow well in your climate.
Plant the strawberries about 12 inches apart in rows about 36 inches apart. This will allow the June-bearing and day-neutral varieties enough room to send out daughter plants. Dig holes deep enough so the roots stay vertical and set the plants so that the top of the root balls are even with soil level. Backfill the holes with soil and tamp down around the plants.
Water the strawberry plants, keeping them moist until they start to grow on their own. These plants are not drought-tolerant, so if they receive little rainwater, water deeply once a week to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Stop watering in late fall so the plants can go dormant.
Pinch off the flowers of June-bearing plants in the first season and do the same for ever-bearing and day-neutral plants until June. This will encourage root growth and new runners.
Renovate June-bearing plants every year after harvest. Mow the foliage down to 1 inch and rake away all the leaves. Narrow the existing rows to about half their sizes with a hoe. Fertilize with a complete fertilizer marked 10-10-10 and follow the directions on the package for application amounts and instructions.
Place a 2- to 3-inch layer of straw over the plants after they have been subjected to two or three hard frosts. This will protect them during the worst part of the winter.