Growing Strawberries

Growing strawberries was a little intimidating and I felt the effort was not worth it. After all buying a flat of strawberries was so easy. But as the price of strawberries steadily increased, I decided to try my hand at growing strawberries starting with 25 plants in a small area of my vegetable garden and I am glad I did.

That first year I grew an ever bearing variety I picked up at my local nursery in the early spring. By July I was picking a bowlful of fruit every few days. By fall the berries were at it again and I harvested until the frost came. I ended up with about 3 gallons of strawberries in the freezer.

Choosing your Strawberry Plants

Strawberries can be purchased at your local nursery or online in the spring. Later in the season you can buy them potted. The most cost effective way to purchase them is bare root in the spring.

Bare root strawberries come in bundles of 25 plants. Starting in March I keep my eyes open for the bare root strawberries at my local nursery. The usually offer several different varieties around $5.99 to $12.99 per 25 plants. Bare root strawberries sell out fast so don’t hesitate.

Strawberry plants are ever bearers or June bearers. Ever bearing strawberries are also known as day neutral. These varieties will bear strawberries in the spring and fall and through out the summer. 

June bearers have a large crop of berries in the spring. These strawberries tend to be larger. This is a good variety to plant if you want large crops all at once. The disadvantage is you need to be ready to pick when they are ripe. If you let the crop go you will not have berries again till next season.

You can purchase strawberries online but they are usually more expressive than buying them at your local nursery but the selection is unlimited and a good choice if you want to pick your own variety. 

Indiana Berry has a wide selection of berries. Order in the spring and they will ship when it is time to plant.

Growing Strawberries

Growing strawberries will take some for thought, are you going to grow ever bearing or June bearing? I recommend ever bearing for the home gardener because they bear well through out the summer, take less time to manage and last for two seasons.

June bearing strawberries bear in the spring the following year you plant them, take more time to manage and last for 4 years. The strawberries come on at the same time and if you are to busy to pick them, you loose your opportunity to harvest until next spring.

Choose a sunny spot in your garden enriched with compost and nutrients. It is better to plant strawberries in rows because they are easier to manage and rotate. Choose a spot they can stay for 2 years. Strawberry plants can be planted in the early spring as soon as they go on sale at your local nursery. Here in northern Utah I plant at the end of March.

Separate the strawberry roots. Plant the strawberries 8 to 12 inches apart in a row single file. This gives room for the new plants that are sent out from runners. Make sure the crown of the plant is not below the surface of the ground. Water the plants well after planting. Keep watered well as the young plants begin to take root.

As the growing strawberries mature they will start to send out runners. This is natural. For the first year at the beginning of summer clip these runners off. The runners will sap strength and limit your berries in July. Continue trimming the runners until late summer. In August you can let some of the runners grow. Train them to stay within the rows. These growing strawberry runners will be next year’s plants. 

If you let the runners go wild your patch will be too crowded and limit your strawberry harvest. If you have planted ever bearing plants you will start harvesting in early summer. In the fall your plants will give you a nice crop. Once the strawberry plants start to produce berries you will want to pick every 3 days or so. I wash and put the berries into freezer bags. I keep adding fresh picked berries to the bag in the freezer as I harvest them.

When I have enough strawberries, I make jam. I save the rest for eating through out the winter.

In the fall you can mulch your berry patch if you have cold long winters. I don’t mulch and the berries and they are fine in our area.

The next year I plant a new row of growing strawberries. I have a new row and a two year old row. I rotate between these two rows so that every year I am planting a new row. The third year I take out the 2 year old plants and plant new plants so that one row is always producing year old plants and the other row two year plants.

Make sure every spring you thin your rows of mature plants. Keep your plants 6 inches apart.

If you choose to plant June bearing strawberries you will do the same as above except you will be adding a new row for four years. So you will be rotating between four rows instead of two. Pull the mature plants every four years and add the new plants to this row.

Keep your growing strawberries trimmed of runners; I usually do this when I am picking fruit. Keep them watered well and cover with netting if you have problems with birds sharing your harvest.

Enjoy your harvest!

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