Grown as either a small tree or shrub, the strawberry tree is one of the most attractive specimens available for residential use. The evergreen nature and off-season flowering make this a real find for discriminating gardeners.
Check out this guest post from igardenplanting on the benefits of strawberries and the best way to grow them.
Once you have decided upon the best type and variety of strawberries, it’s time to get to work in the garden and plant them.
You don’t need much by the way of expensive garden tools but you do need to know what you’re doing so take the time to inform yourself and read on…
Before we outline what to do, a couple of quick videos that we highly recommend you check out.
For those of you who prefer to learn by watching rather than reading, finding the best videos can be an overwhelming task.
This video is a very short and sweet guide to planting.
It’s always good to have a couple of takes on a subject so this video approaches the same subject of planting strawberries and is also only a couple of minutes long.
When To Grow Strawberries
Determining the best time to plant strawberries is pretty straightforward.
If you plant them any time from late spring to the beginning of summer, they will bear fruit about two months after planting.
Don’t be concerned at the appearance of the runners. They resemble small roots with very few leaves. This is normal.
How To Plant Strawberries
First, a step-by-step summary of general planting…
1. Look for somewhere that’s warm with plenty of sun. Strawberries thrive on direct sunlight and they don’t need shade. A little wind is fine but they should always be sheltered from the prevailing wind
Source: Dr Max Lingo
2. Make sure you turn the soil over thoroughly. Eliminate all weeds. Add plenty of compost
Source: Sustainable NoVA
3. Take the plant out of the container. After soaking the root ball for a couple of hours, you’re good to go
4. Dig a hole in your soil and pop the strawberry plant in. Keep the crown of the plant up above the soil line
Source: Strawberry Plants
5. Press the soil all around the base of your plant
Source: Tui Garden
6. Repeat as necessary
Planting can take so many forms that you are best to watch plenty of videos, think about how you want to go about it, be that soil or containers, and take it from there.
There are a huge number of systems used across the world for raising strawberries commercially. The two most popular are:
- Matted Row System
- Hill System
Each of these systems needs different cultivation techniques and garden tools as well as different planting densities.
Matted Row System
Source: Strawberry Plants
With matted row production, the mother and daughter are allowed to grow side by side.
Plants are then trained so that they grow in narrow rows.
Set your plants between 15 and 25 inches apart. The rows should be 36 to 42 inches apart. Runners will fill in the space between plants until a 14 to 18 inch row is created.
The production cycle is two years. Spacing is not so dense as with the hill system. With the matted row system, you should have around 40,000 plants per hectare.
This method is not as intensive and produces lower yields than the hill system but it’s also cheaper and very widely used, especially in cooler climates.
Source: Strawberry Plants
With the hill system – also known as plasticulture – the crowns are used to produce fruit. Runners are removed so that the plant will focus purely on production.
Plants are transplanted and placed in raised beds then covered with plastic. Raised bed production improves soil drainage.
Using this system, the plants are 10 to 18 inches apart. A runner is allowed to start a new plant between the two mothers. This will keep the plants 8 inches apart.
They are planted quite densely – anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 plants per hectare – which leads to predictably high yields.
Taking Care of Strawberries
It’s a smart move to ascertain that the soil where you will plant your strawberries will get adequate sun and that it will drain nicely.
Fertilize this year before planting.
Use 1 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 100 square feet of space. This should contain equal parts potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen. Work it 5 to 8 inches into your soil.
If you provide a rich and fertile environment for your strawberry plants right from the get-go, they’ll have all the nutrients they could hope for from the moment they touch the soil.
Any time during the first year your strawberries look green or show signs of weakening, pop 1.5 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer for every 100 square feet alongside the plants.
In late August, add the same amount of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Again, set this against the plants.
You should use a hose to spray your fertilizer. By concentrating on the soil, the roots will absorb it effectively.
Years 2 and 3
You will generally get three years growing strawberries in the same spot. After this, leaf diseases tend to occur.
In the lead-up to the second and third growing seasons, take off the foliage and use this as a natural fertilizer by mixing it into the soil.
A pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer for each 100 square feet should follow.
When you move to a new location, repeat the above cycle.
Commercial fertilizers work well with strawberry plants.
You can also use organic alternatives.
Bonemeal is an excellent slow-release phosphorous fertilizer tailor-made for strawberries. Steam it first for best results.
Source: Patio of Pots
Dried blood will deliver an immediate jolt of nitrogen.
Crushed eggshells can be introduced as a way of deterring slugs and snails while also releasing valuable calcium.
Source: Love To Know
Water your strawberries regularly but with a light touch. You can increase the frequency when the weather gets particularly hot and dry.
When you water, focus on the base of your plants rather than the leaves and fruits. This will help to prevent disease. Drip lines, direct-point watering or drip tape all safeguard against splashing the leaves and fruits.
The best time to water is in the morning so all the surface water will be gone by the evening.
Strawberries have quite shallow root systems meaning they do not flourish if there are weeds around. Take action and get rid of these as soon as possible.
- Pull out weeds by hand whenever you see them. Monitor your strawberry patch daily as weeds often spring up overnight
- Use a trowel to dig up any weeds that are deep-rooted
- Use herbicides with great care and only if you are convinced they won’t touch the plant or the soil near the plant’s roots. Check that it is appropriate for use on foods
- Add some mulch to your strawberry patch. Make this 2 inches thick. Organic mulch like wood chippings is great as it will break down and add nutrients to the soil. Wheat and oat are also good options. Don’t use rock mulch as this can cause the leaves to burn when heat is reflected
For more information growing strawberries, visit igardenplanting.com