Strawberry plants make an excellent addition to the home garden. 30 plants will provide enough strawberries for a family of four. The attractive plants can be grown as a groundcover or landscape ornamental, or in a traditional bed.
Choosing Strawberry Cultivars
Choose vigorous, "virus free" plants from an established nursery. Buying from a local nursery ensures that the cultivar you have chosen will do well in your area, but mail-order nurseries will offer the widest selection.
Three types of strawberries are readily available to the home gardener:
June Bearing strawberries produce a large, concentrated crop in late spring. You'll get more berries per season from June bearing strawberries, and the entire crop will ripen over a three week period.
Ever Bearing strawberries produce one crop in spring and another in fall.
Day Neutral plants are capable of producing fruit throughout most of the growing season.
Site Selection and Preparation
Strawberries need full sun to produce the best crop, but you can get a harvestable crop with as little as 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Increasing the amount of sunlight that your strawberries receive will result in more and better quality berries.
Grow the Best Strawberries
Remember the strawberries of your childhood, dew-covered and fresh-picked early in the morning and served with shortcake and whipped cream in the evening? Can you recapture that flavor? Sure you can -- but not with store-bought berries. Find out how to grow baskets of strawberries full of flavor, even in small spaces.
Strawberries will not tolerate drought or standing water. Be sure that the site you select is well-drained. Add organic material if the soil does not retain moisture well. Beds should be placed beyond the root zone of large trees so that the tree will not compete with the strawberries for moisture. Choose a location that will be easy to water during dry spells.
A pH of 5.3 to 6.5 is optimal, but strawberries will grow in soils with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0. Test kits are available in most garden supply stores, but if you plan to do a lot of gardening, a professional soil test is highly recommended. Soil tests are available through most county agricultural extension agents.
The site selected should be free from weeds, grubs and soil-borne diseases. Areas where sod has grown should be tilled and cultivated the year before planting to eliminate grass that will compete with the strawberries. Perennial weeds also compete with the plants and cause a marked reduction in production. Strawberries are susceptible to Verticillium Wilt, and should not be planted where tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes have grown in the past three years since these vegetables often carry the disease. If you must plant where these vegetables have grown, choose resistant varieties of strawberries such as Allstar, Earliglow, Settler, Tribute or Tristar.