Strawberries need a steady supply of water. Water the plants any time there is less than an inch of rainfall in a week. One good soaking a week should be sufficient in most cases. Always water early in the day so that foliage has a chance to dry before nightfall. This will help prevent leaf diseases.
Because optimum fruit, root, and plant development occurs at relatively cool soil temperatures, a mulch is recommend to help keep the soil temperatures down. Additionally, a mulch will help to preserve soil moisture, control weeds and keep fruit clean. Black plastic is not recommended because it elevates the soil temperature.
Strawberries suffer if there is competition, so keep weeds out of the beds. Hand weeding is best because the roots are shallow. If you use a hoe or other cultivation tool, take care around the roots of the plants.
Strawberries require regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer to produce a good crop. They should be fertilized at time of planting and early in the spring in subsequent years. Apply a second feeding shortly after harvest. Never apply fertilizer to strawberries late in the growing season in cold climates, as this predisposes the plants to winter injury. In warm to moderate climates, an August or September feeding is recommended. If you aren't sure whether to give your strawberries a late feeding, contact your local agricultural extension agent.
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.
Renovating a Strawberry Bed
June-bearing strawberries planted in a matted row system can be refruited by renovating the patch soon after harvest. Not all patches should be saved. If the bed is weedy or diseased, or if you aren't happy with the quality of the berries, replace the bed. A good patch can be refruited three or four times.
Set your lawnmower blade high enough to mow off the tops of the plants without damaging the crowns. After the leaves have dried, rake them off the bed. Narrow the rows to a width of 8-10 inches. It's best to save one side of the row so that you are saving young plants. Thin remaining plants to a distance of six inches apart. Saving too many plants will reduce berry size and encourage disease. Fertilize and water well to encourage regrowth.