How To Grow Strawberries – “It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?” – JRR Tolkien (The Lord of The Rings)
Who can ever forget the delicious taste of strawberries? The cool, fresh sensation which fills your mouth as soon as you take a small bite of those luscious red strawberries is hard to forget after all. This taste of strawberries increases even more if they are from your garden.
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In fact, strawberries are perfect little fruits for your organic garden which could also enhance the beauty of your home. So, what are you waiting for? Read on further to find all about how to grow strawberries.
When to Plant Strawberries
- The timing of growing strawberries is essential for enjoying a good quality harvest. In general, strawberry plants grow well in areas which get plenty sunlight and enough water. However, you would need to ensure a good drainage as the fruit will rot under excessive water.
- They are best planted during the spring season although you can also plant perpetual strawberries (that give fruits fairly regularly over the whole year) during the autumn season. Planting them early in fall allows the roots to get strong and yield more fruit in general.
- Alpine strawberries which bear smaller but delicious strawberries do well with a plantation in the earlier phase of spring, say in second or third months. On the other hand, varieties with bigger berries need to be planted by second or latest by the first half of the third month of spring.
How to Plant Strawberries
- Firstly make sure that the soil is fresh to protect the strawberry plant from various diseases. Never use the soil on which tomatoes or potatoes were cultivated earlier. This is because strawberries are susceptible to similar diseases like them.
- Strawberries need good quality soil with an acidic nature. So, if you have access to sandy or clay soil, you would need to add a generous amount of organic material, compost, rotted manure and sawdust, composted leaves.
- You also need to maintain the pH of soil between 5.5 and 6.5. for acidity. However, beware of using too acidic soil. In case you face this situation, you can add dolomite to the soil before planting. The ideal quantity will be three-quarters of a cup per sq.meter of plant food.
- Once you have prepared the soil, take out the strawberry plant from store container. Remove the covering and gently dust the extra soil from roots. Place them in water container during the planting process to keep the roots hydrated.
- Dig the soil in such a manner that can accommodate the roots of the plant. If you are planting multiple plants, maintain a distance of about 90 centimeters (approx. 35 inches) between each plant. When planting in rows, keep a space of 35-40 cm in between rows.
- Quick tip: Position your planting rows from north to south direction. This will cause an even ripening of fruit.
- While planting strawberry into the soil, always remember to keep the crown (space in between the base and roots of the plant) above the soil. Ideally, you can plant it at the same depth with which it came in the container. However, beware of putting it too deep into the soil as it would lead the plant to get rot.
- Evenly spread the soil around the base of the plant and water it thoroughly. Here also you need to maintain a balance as even though strawberry needs water, it will begin rotting in a soggy mud. Also, ensure that you water the crown of the plant and not the fruit to prevent it from rotting.
- Add well-balanced fertilizers to the soil initially. Later, when it starts to bear flowers, you can use high-potash liquid fertilizer to promote fruit growth. However, avoid nitrogen rich water soluble fertilizers if you want to enjoy fruits. Those fertilizers are good for leaf growth but produce fewer fruits.
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Strawberry plant care
- Keep the plant well hydrated (not soaked, though!) particularly during the initial phase and dry season. However, as the fruit begins to appear and grow dark, reduce the amount of water.
- Prevent more than one runner from mother plant (these are new plants growing from main plant stem along the length) and cut them off periodically. Not doing so will take the focus from fruits to the growth of the plant with more leaves.
- To boost the growth of the plant, pluck the first flowers which arise out of it. However, do not go overboard and allow upcoming flowers to grow and turn into fruit.
- Make sure that you use disease-free plants and fresh soil for planting strawberries. Later, you can also use preventive sprays to protect the plant from diseases.
- If you want to increase the yield of small fruits, you can allow some runners to grow. However, remember spacing them at 7 to 10 inches apart circling the mother plant.
- Mulching of strawberries is essential to protect the plant from winters. It also keeps the fruits clean from surrounding mud. Winter mulch, straw, strawberry mats, black polyethylene covers are suitable for this purpose.
- You can use wired fencing to cover a row of plants. However, do not forget to remove them for pollination. Once the fruit starts growing, Use nets and meshes over the crop at the time of fruit ripening as birds love strawberries and can damage the fruits.
- Remember to rotate the strawberry crop after every three years. This is because, after this extended period, yield tends to go down. Moreover, if you continue to grow strawberries on a same patch of land, there is a greater chance of plant diseases and pests.
What other tricks and methods do you use to grow strawberries? Share with us in the comments below, we would love to hear your ideas.
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