June-bearing strawberries are easy to grow and very popular for home gardens. Earliglow, Allstar, and Jewel are among the popular varieties. Plant strawberries in early spring, after frost danger has passed, for a second season June crop of juicy red fruits for baking, canning, and fresh treats right from your garden. Follow a few simple steps diligently throughout the summer, and you will have a beautiful fruit crop for several years to come thanks to early efforts.
Choose a site in full sun with good drainage. If soil is heavy clay, consider incorporating 2 inches of organic compost, such as composted pine bark, into the bed area the fall before planting. This will create a more loose media over the winter for better spring results.
Prepare the soil 2 weeks prior to planting by adding a 10-10-10 fertilizer to the bed, at a rate of 4 lbs. per 100 square feet. Till the fertilizer into the soil and rake the top for a smooth bed surface.
Plant June-bearing strawberry starts 18 inches to 2 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart with the plant's crown resting just under the surface. The planting strategy called a matted row system requires the utmost sacrifice from the first time strawberry gardener. To ensure large, healthy fruit in subsequent seasons, all flowers must be pinched in June and the crop left dormant until next season. This allows the starts to send out runners, filling in the rows and establishing strong root systems.
Water the starts well and keep the soil moist. During flower and fruit setting, heat waves, and in early fall, offer extra moisture to keep the plants from wilting or experiencing stress.
Renovation is the process of mowing the plant foliage down to one inch tall, tilling between rows to remove overgrown plant runners, and thinning between plants to establish healthy clumps for the following season. Water after fall renovation to encourage more runners to develop before the weather turns.
Apply one to two inches of straw mulch between rows and over strawberry foliage prior to winter. Mulch will protect the plants from frost. Remove the mulch from the plant tops in early spring, but leave it around and beside them between rows to retain moisture and deter weeds.
Harvest June-bearing strawberries every other day during the month of June when berries are bright red. Clemson University Extension horticulture experts suggest leaving 1/4 inch of stem on the strawberries, and picking during the cool of the day, to maintain freshness.