The growing facts for tasty strawberries

Having fresh, juicy strawberries anytime you want can be easy enough to do.  Here are some facts about the popular berry that will help you grow them in your own backyard.

The growing facts for tasty strawberries

Strawberry types

There are three types of strawberries:

  1. Those that bear one crop in early summer
  2. The everbearing kind that gives a crop in summer and another in fall
  3. The day-neutrals that fruit in early summer, take a short rest, then crop again until frost. These outproduce the rest.

Preparing the ground and planting

For one-crop varieties the best time to plant is in early spring — in mild climates, also in early fall. Plant everbearing varieties in spring. Here's what you need to do:

  • Clear the bed of weeds, especially perennial weeds, that could compete with your crop.
  • Spread five centimetres (two inches) of well-rotted manure or compost over the bed and dig it in. Or, sprinkle a balanced organic fertilizer blend at the rate recommended on the package. Strawberries do not have a deep root system, so you do not need the fertilizer worked deeply into the soil.
  • Place plants 45 centimetres (18 inches) apart in rows 75 centimetres (29 and a half inches) apart. Soak those that are in peat pots for an hour first.
  • Plant the pots so that they are just covered with soil.
  • Plant unpotted strawberries in moist soil. Dig a hole three to five centimetres (one to two inches) deeper than the roots, and put the plant on a mound in the hole with roots spread.
  • Position the upper part of the roots (the crown) level with the surface. If it is buried, the crown bud can rot; if its base is exposed, the roots can dry out.
  • Fill in and firm around carefully. Water in dry weather.

Caring for strawberry plants

  • Water regularly in dry weather for the first few weeks after planting. Lack of water at this time can retard growth or kill the plants.
  • In fall,  cut off any runners that have grown to conserve the plants' energy.
  • In late winter apply a balanced organic fertilizer blend according to the directions on the package.
  • If growth is generally poor, spread more fertilizer along rows in midspring.
  • In spring control weeds with shallow hoeing.
  • In their first season remove the blooms from one-crop strawberries that were planted in late fall or spring. On everbearing varieties, remove flowers in early spring to encourage more and better berries later on.
  • In subsequent years, when the developing fruits of the one-crop varieties are heavy enough to almost reach the ground, tuck clean straw beneath the berries and around the plants. An alternative is to use plastic sheeting to keep the berries off the ground. Be sure the soil is moist before putting it down.
  • Water during dry spells, particularly when ripening begins, in order to swell the fruit. But do not overdo it: too much water during the ripening process can encourage a fungal disease known as gray mould.
  • Be sure to pick strawberries with their stems attached to ensure very good flavour. When the berries are fully ripe all around. Avoid excessive handling, since the fruits bruise easily.

Following these simple guidelines will allow you to have fresh berries grown right in your own backyard.

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