One of the easiest and most productive berry crops for the home gardener, strawberries do require attention throughout the growing season. Choosing varieties which produce well in your area increases the chances of a good harvest. Cultivation is simple but essential, with special attention necessary in the first week after planting.
Water new strawberry plants daily for the first week. After transplanting the strawberry's roots need time to recover and will not pull moisture from the soil as well as when the plant is established. Extra watering fills in spaces around the roots with fine silt and reduces transplant shock. After the first week, an inch of water per week is plenty.
Check soil levels around the crown of the strawberry plants and adjust as needed. The crown of the plant--the part where new leaves emerge--should be above ground. No roots should be exposed to the air. During the first week, soil will settle and wash away. Mound soil around the plants as necessary to keep the roots protected.
Remove any clusters of flowers, buds or green berries from new strawberry plants by pinching off the entire flower cluster's main stem. Plants put their energy into reproduction instead of growth if given the choice. Allowing berry plants to fruit the first season will severely reduce next year's crop.
Control weeds either by cultivating the plants shallowly with a hoe or by hand pulling weeds when they are still small. Allowing weed growth will stunt the progress of the strawberry bed. Letting weeds mature before pulling will disrupt the soil and possibly uproot strawberry plants. Weed strawberry beds weekly until the beds fill in with new plants, and weed as needed afterwards.
Place strawberry runners so that new plants in the bed cover a 2-foot-wide row with a spacing of 6 inches between plants. Runners begin sprouting from the original plants in only a few weeks. Runners bear leaves at the tip of the tendril instead of flower buds--be sure not to confuse the two when clipping berry stalks. As a runner reaches out for new ground a small berry plant develops at the tip. As soon as the new plant begins to root, another runner begins to form. Runner plants survive relocation easily so long as the green tendril still connects them to the parent plant.