Are you interested in growing your own strawberries? Growing strawberries is a fun and rewarding way to enjoy fresh, juicy berries right from your own garden.
Strawberries is something that we can never get enough of in my house. We love eating them in desserts, adding to our smoothies and making homemade strawberry jam with them.
Freezing fresh strawberries from our garden is the perfect way to enjoy fresh and flavorful strawberries year round.
Strawberries are easy to grow and can be grown in a variety of locations, including in containers, raised beds, or directly in the ground.
Before you start growing strawberries, it’s important to understand the basics of how to plant and care for them.
Strawberries require full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. They also need consistent watering and regular fertilization to produce healthy, flavorful fruit.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to successfully grow your own strawberries.
Preparing to Grow Strawberries
Before you start planting strawberries, it’s important to prepare properly to ensure a bountiful harvest. In this section, we’ll cover the key steps you need to take to prepare for growing strawberries.
Choosing the Right Variety
There are many different varieties of strawberries to choose from, each with their own unique flavor, size, and growing requirements.
When selecting a variety, consider factors such as your climate, soil type, and the amount of sunlight your growing location receives. Some popular varieties include:
- Hood Strawberries – if you’re in the pacific NW, this is the BEST strawberry plant to grow. These berries are only in season for a few weeks at the very end of May and early June, but they are so full of flavor! My favorite strawberry for making jam and using in strawberry shortcakes and other desserts, and they are so delicious when eaten fresh. This is the place I’ve purchased Hood strawberry plants from in the past.
- Albion – this is actually probably my second favorite strawberry, but it’s because its season is so long. These strawberries aren’t as sweet as the hoods, but they are still delicious in desserts and eating fresh.
Selecting a Growing Location
Strawberries thrive in a sunny location with well-draining soil.
Look for an area in your yard that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day and has good drainage.
Preparing the Soil
Strawberries prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5.
You can test your soil to determine its pH level and make any necessary adjustments.
Work in plenty of organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve soil fertility and drainage.
Remove any weeds or debris from the planting area and loosen the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches.
Obtaining Strawberry Plants
You can purchase strawberry plants from a local nursery or garden center, or order them online.
Look for healthy plants with green leaves and no signs of disease or damage.
If planting in the spring, choose dormant, bare-root plants. If planting in the fall, choose plants that are already potted and actively growing.
Planting in the Ground
When planting strawberries in the ground, it’s important to choose a spot that gets at least eight hours of full sun every day. The soil should be rich, loamy, well-drained, and moist. If you have clay soil, mix in 4 inches or more of compost and rake the clay soil into raised mounds to further improve drainage.
The best time to plant strawberries depends on the climate in your region and the type of strawberry plants you are using.
For most areas, the ideal time to plant strawberries is in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked, usually around March to April.
This allows the plants to establish themselves before the warmer months and ensures they have enough time to develop a strong root system and produce fruit.
However, there are different types of strawberry plants, and their planting times may vary:
- June-bearing strawberries: These plants produce a single, large crop in late spring to early summer. Plant them in early spring, once the ground has thawed and is workable.
- Everbearing strawberries: These plants produce two smaller crops, one in early summer and another in early fall. Plant them in early spring, similar to June-bearing varieties.
- Day-neutral strawberries: These plants can produce fruit throughout the growing season, as long as temperatures are between 35-85°F (2-30°C) and are grown as annuals. Plant them in fall.
If you live in a mild climate with a longer growing season, you may be able to plant strawberries in the fall, allowing them to establish roots before winter and produce an earlier crop the following spring. However, in colder climates with harsh winters, it’s best to stick to spring planting.
Regardless of when you plant, make sure to choose a location with well-draining soil, and provide adequate water and sunlight to ensure a healthy, productive strawberry patch.
When you plant your strawberry plants, make sure the crown of the plant is exposed so you can prevent rot.
Planting in Containers
Planting strawberries in containers is a great option if you have limited space or poor soil quality.
Here are some container options to consider:
- Pots and planters: Choose a pot or planter that is at least 6-8 inches deep and has drainage holes at the bottom. You can use materials like terracotta, plastic, or ceramic, depending on your preference.
- Hanging baskets: Strawberries grow well in hanging baskets, and this allows the plants to cascade over the edges, keeping the fruit off the ground and avoiding potential issues with pests or diseases.
- Strawberry jars or planters: These are specially designed containers with pockets or holes on the sides, allowing you to plant multiple strawberry plants in one container. This type of container is perfect for maximizing space and displaying the attractive plants and fruit.
- Grow bags: Grow bags are made from fabric or plastic and are a lightweight, versatile option for growing strawberries. Make sure to choose a grow bag with adequate drainage holes.
Fill the container with a well-draining potting mix, and mix in some compost for added nutrients.
Plant your strawberries in the spring, after the last frost. Space your plants about 6 inches apart, and make sure the crown of the plant is exposed to prevent rot.
Water your container regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.
Caring for Strawberry Plants
Caring for your strawberry plants is essential to ensure a bountiful harvest. This section will cover the basics of watering, fertilizing, mulching, weeding, and pest and disease control.
Strawberries need consistent moisture to thrive, especially during the fruiting season.
Water your plants with about 1 to 2 inches of water each day. Try to water earlier in the day to allow the plant time to dry before night.
Avoid overhead watering, which can promote fungal diseases. Instead, use a drip irrigation system or water at the base of the plants. Mulching can also help retain moisture in the soil.
Fertilizing strawberries is an important step to help your plants grow strong and produce lots of tasty fruit. There is a lot of different advice about fertilizing strawberry plants, but here is some general advice on fertilizing your plants. Id suggest starting with this and see how your plants and fruit does.
You’ll want to use a balanced fertilizer, which means it has equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (look for a label with numbers like 10-10-10 or 14-14-14).
Start fertilizing weekly around the end of February until your plants first start to flower.
Make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package so you don’t give your plants too much.
And remember, always water your strawberry plants well after you fertilize, so the nutrients can spread through the soil and reach the roots. This will help your strawberries grow big, juicy, and full of flavor!
Mulching is an essential part of caring for strawberry plants.
It helps retain moisture in the soil, suppresses weeds, and regulates soil temperature.
Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch, such as straw, leaves, or pine needles, around the plants.
Weeding is crucial to keep your strawberry plants healthy and productive.
Remove weeds regularly, being careful not to disturb the shallow roots of the plants.
Hand-pulling is the safest method, but you can also use a hoe or cultivator to remove weeds. Mulching can also help suppress weeds.
Pest and Disease Control
Strawberries are susceptible to various pests and diseases, including spittlebugs, slugs, spider mites, powdery mildew, and gray mold.
Monitor your plants regularly for signs of damage or infestation.
Remove any infected or damaged leaves or fruit promptly.
Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control pests.
Always follow the instructions on the product label and use protective gear, such as gloves and a mask, when applying chemicals.
Harvesting strawberries is an exciting and rewarding experience. When your strawberries are fully ripe, they will be bright red and plump. Here are a few tips to help you harvest your strawberries:
- Harvest only fully red (ripe) berries, and pick every three days. This will ensure that you get the best flavor and texture from your strawberries.
- Gently tug on the ripe strawberry and it should come off the stem easily and into your hand. if it doesn’t fall easily from the plant, I tend to leave it to ripen a bit more and try again the next time.
- For June-bearer strawberries, the harvest will last up to 3 weeks. Everbearing strawberries will produce one crop of strawberries in late spring and then again in late summer or early fall.
When you harvest your strawberries, it’s important to handle them gently to avoid bruising or damaging the fruit.
Once you’ve harvested your strawberries, you can enjoy them fresh or use them in a variety of recipes.
Strawberries are a versatile fruit that can be used in everything from salads to desserts. Store your strawberries in the refrigerator to keep them fresh for up to a week.
With just a little bit of effort and attention to detail, you can produce a bountiful harvest of delicious, juicy berries in your own backyard.
Remember to choose a sunny location with well-draining soil, and to water your plants regularly. Use a balanced fertilizer to give your plants the nutrients they need to thrive, and keep an eye out for pests and diseases.
When it comes to harvesting your berries, be gentle and careful.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different varieties of strawberries and different growing methods. Whether you prefer traditional garden beds, raised beds, or container gardening, there’s a way to grow strawberries that will work for you.
So get out there and start planting! With a little bit of patience and a lot of love, you’ll be enjoying sweet, juicy strawberries in no time.