Strawberries don’t only taste delicious, but they’re easy to grow at home, too. There’s nothing better than having fresh picked strawberries at your fingertips every day. They will grow vibrant and juicy whether they are planted in a garden in your yard or in jars or hanging baskets around your home. You can even use strawberry plants to decorate an existing garden. Plant the strawberries along the edges of the garden to add a nice decorative edging. You can also plant them on top of a wall or in hanging baskets above a fence and let the leaves hang over, creating a nice visual to an otherwise plain wall or fence.
Understanding the Life Cycle
Anyone can plant and grow strawberries if you understand how their life cycle works. Strawberries, like many other types of plants and flowers, start growing in the spring and stop producing in the winter. Depending on the climate where the strawberries are being grown, they could begin growing fruit as early as February in warm climates like Florida. In areas farther north, it could be June before they begin producing fruit.
Many strawberry plants have what are called runners, which have baby plants on the ends of them. These baby plants become rooted into the ground while they are still attached to the main plant. Cutting the runners off the main plant will allow it to produce more strawberries. It’s best to only let each strawberry plant produce 3 or fewer baby plants each year. There are some types of strawberry varieties that don’t produce runners at all.
After the strawberry plants produce the fruit in the first half of the summer, they typically take a short rest during the second half of the summer. Around September, many of the plants begin to grow another round of fruit for the year.
If you live in an area with cold winters, you can replant the strawberries into pots and bring them inside to a warmer location so they can continue to thrive during the cold months. Then in the spring, you can replant them outside again.
Planting and Caring for Strawberry Plants
Strawberries prefer to be grown in soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8. If the soil in your area is too alkaline, it may be better to grow the strawberries in barrels or pots with a good quality potting soil.
If the soil in your yard has a lot of clay in it, the strawberries won’t thrive as well. To remedy this, you can put some composted leaves or another type of organic material in the soil where you’re planting the strawberries. If your soil is sandy, you can mix in some manure or compost to improve the growing environment for the plants.
Wherever you decide to plant the strawberries, you need to make sure it’s in a sunny location. Strawberries need 8 hours of sunlight each day to produce fruit to their full capabilities. You should also be sure there is ample space between each strawberry plant to allow room for the runners.
For the plant varieties that do produce runners, 18 inches apart would be ample space to allow them to grow without being overcrowded. For the varieties that do not produce runners, you can space them 6 inches apart. The roots of the plants should be fully covered with soil, but you need to leave the crown of the plant uncovered and exposed to sunlight.
Place mulch around the plants to help the soil to stay moist. You can also fertilize the strawberries with a fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro that is designed for strawberries and other types of edible plants. You will notice the plants beginning to bloom in the spring. If you notice a lot of bees around your strawberry plants in the spring, this is a good thing. The plants must be pollinated before they can fully produce fruit. Within about 30 days after they have been pollinated, you will begin to see fruit growth on the plants.
If you notice that slugs have taken up residence in your strawberry garden and are attacking the strawberries, it’s possible that the type of mulch you’re using has attracted them. Slugs are attracted to organic type mulches, so if you notice them around, you may want to switch over to a plastic mulch.
Another issue you may notice with your strawberries is fungus. If your plants have dark spots on their leaves, they have likely been hit with a fungal disease. You can cut down on the number of pests in your strawberry garden by cutting back some of the foliage. You may also need to protect your plants from birds that swoop down and steal the berries. This is an easy fix, however. All you need to do is cover the plants with a netting to keep the birds away but still allow the plants to have the proper amount of sunlight and water.
If you notice the berries are small, this could be due to the weather. If it’s been hot and dry, this is likely the cause of the issue. Once the weather cools down a bit and the plants receive more water, they should produce normal sized berries.
Harvesting and Storing Strawberries
The best time to pick fully grown strawberries is in the morning. Picking them in the morning is best because the berries will still be cool, whereas if you pick them later in the day, they will have warmed up with the heat of the sun. Once you have picked the strawberries, put them immediately into the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to eat or cook the strawberries, take them out of the refrigerator and rinse them in cool water. You can also freeze the strawberries, dry them or use them to make delicious jams and jellies.
With the tips you’ve been given on how to properly grow, take care of and harvest strawberries, you should have no issues growing them right in your own backyard. Just wait until you can have the pleasure of walking out into your own yard and picking fresh strawberries to eat when you’re having a craving for something utterly delicious. It’s always easy to grow strawberries from runners than from seeds and if you don’t have enough space in your garden, you can grow them in containers without a problem.
Fast Facts on Strawberries
- Strawberries are packed with high amounts of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.
- USA is the largest strawberry producer in the world.
- Strawberry seeds need to be cold treated to encourage germination before planting.
- Strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside.
- There are about 200 seeds on an average strawberry.
- Strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges.