Strawberries are a favorite in many home gardens because they are relatively easy to grow, require little chemicals and can grow in small spaces. Strawberries will grow in most parts of North America, but Zones 4 to 7 are preferable and result in perennial plants. Caring for strawberry plants properly will cause them to yield a better, more bountiful fruit crop. Strawberry plants in their second season should grow a quart of berries per season.
Apply a balanced fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio of 10-10-10 before planting strawberries. Each summer thereafter, after the berries are harvested, lay down one pound of fertilizer per 100 square feet of planting bed. Apply the food in mid-summer, before September when fruit-bud initiation.
Space strawberry plants out in rows that are 2 feet apart. Plant each individual strawberry plant 6 inches from the next one. This will keep the planting beds from getting too crowded.
Remove flower stalks during the first growing season. The flowers take energy from the plant when it's trying to produce fruit. Cut off the flowers with pruning shears.
Cover strawberry plants with black plastic sheets or straw during the early spring months, when there is still the possibility of frost. Frost can damage blooming strawberry plants. Once the weather warms up, remove the covers.
Keep the bases of strawberry plants free of mulch or debris after the early spring. Garden pests such as pillbugs could inhabit the mulch and affect the plants. Pick the strawberries as soon as they become ripe to prevent insect damage. Harvest them everyday during the season or you may lose more to pests.