Being the active gardeners I know you are, you are likely looking for ideas on how to grow strawberries in your backyard garden or planters. After all, strawberries are a full sun star – a summer staple you must have in your garden.
Here, I have a detailed guide on how to take advantage of the summer sun to grow this luscious fruit.
How to Grow Strawberries Like a Pro Gardener
Types of Strawberries
Before embarking on the strawberry gardening journey, a thorough understanding of the available types of strawberries is vital. This is so you can be clear on the variety you want to grow from the get-go.
There are three main types of strawberries: everbearing, June-bearing, and day-neutral. Day-neutral and everbearing varieties are mostly mistaken as the same variety, but they are quite different.
- June-bearing varieties have the most abundant fruit size, they only produce a big crop for a week or two.
- Everbearing varieties produce a large early crop — few berries here and there in the season — and a small late harvest.
- The day-neutral types produce throughout their season. Overall, the last two varieties produce smaller and lesser berries than the June-bearers.
- Paying attention to the characteristics of each cultivar will help you decide the variety that suits you best.
- Everbearing and day-neutral varieties are perfect if you are looking for fresh fruits all year round and don’t mind few that they are small in size.
- You will be better off with the large June-bearing varieties if you are growing strawberries to preserve or for canning.
How to Grow Strawberries
Strawberries are one of those fruits that naturally thrive when summer cranks up. As I’ve said, they are summer all-stars that are happy in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8. Strawberry plants need at least 8 hours of full sun exposure every day.
Strawberries can be grown in several ways: raised beds, ground gardens, or even containers. And they can all produce good crops.
You can also start growing your strawberries from seeds, transplants, or young plants bought online or from other nurseries. I highly suggest you start with the young plant, especially if you are only beginning.
Step 1. Preparing the Planting Site
Picking a strategic spot to plant your strawberry bushes is vital if you want a good yield. When summer is activated to the peak, the plants require a daily sunlight exposure of 6 to 10 hours. Strawberry plants are happy with the hot morning sun and some shade a little later in the day.
While you can create for a partial shading, choosing a spot in your garden where the sun shines the brightest and partially shades as the day goes by is the best way to provide the plants with what they need naturally.
- While most strawberry varieties will grow and yield in most soil types, strawberry plants are happier in a loamy soil. Prepare a few months prior with fertilizer and manure, and allow nutrients time to spread out before you plant your strawberries.
- Consider mixing your clay-textured soil with about 4-inches of compost, perlite, and vermiculite to improve drainage. If your soil is more sandy than loamy, add some fertilizer, and your garden will check the perfect soil type box. After which, allow your garden to rest over winter.
- If you live in the colder areas of the States, prepare your soil before the winter sets in. And it will be ready for planting in early spring after the ground has thawed and gathered some heat.
- Strawberries thrive in slightly acidic soil. Using a pH monitor will help you adjust your soil’s acidity level to the right range for maximum productivity.
- If your soil is naturally alkaline, growing your strawberries in containers is your best chance, since you can control the soil’s PH level.
- Correctly draining soil is vital to prevent your plants’ roots from rotting.
- Seasonal crop rotation will help your plant yield more strawberries. However, don’t plant your strawberry bushes where you previously planted tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants.
Step 2. Planting the Strawberries
To enjoy maximum yield and quality fruits, ensure your plants are at least 20 inches apart, leaving a space of 4 feet between rows to make room for runners – strawberry plants like to sprawl a lot.
Before planting, trim the roots to 8 inches and ensure the planting holes are deep and wide enough to avoid bending the roots.
- Be keen to go to the right depth because covering the crown will lead to rotting.
- Assuming you go for transplants, water the bushes thoroughly to reduce the chances of transplant shock.
RELATED: Top 10 Tips for Growing Strawberries
Step 3. Caring for the Strawberries
Like any other plant, the strawberry plant requires grooming and maintenance to produce quality fruits in their season.
- In early summer, mulch the base of your plants together with premium fertilizers.
- Weed diligently throughout the season. Water your berries up to 1 inch thrice a week.
- Increase your water scheduling when the first runner shows because your plants will need more water.
- To increase fruiting and bolster growth, use a general fertilizer at the beginning of the summer season.
- Prevent fruiting in the first season by pinching off the blossoms. This will ensure quality berries in the subsequent seasons.
Diseases and Pests Affecting Strawberries
Sadly, both humans and pests such as slugs, Japanese beetles, and spider mites agree on how sweet and tasty strawberries are. Wilting leaves on your strawberry plants is a sign that you may be dealing with any of these pests.
Luckily, with an organic pesticide like a pureed mixture of garlic and neem oil, you can deal with the slugs and pests and nurture your plants to health again.
Powdery mildew and gray mold are some of the common diseases you will have to deal with. But these can be resolved with an expert’s help.
You will also have to deal with birds at some point, but a shade cloth frame is a perfect way to protect your fruits.
Step 4. Harvesting Your Strawberries
After blossoming, your strawberries are ready for harvest in around 4 to 6 weeks. Pick only the ripe fruits every third day of the fruiting season.
Your harvest will go for a further three weeks if you are growing a June-bearing variety.
- Always cut the berry at the stem. Pulling it risks damaging the entire plant.
Storing Your Strawberries
Refrigerate your unwashed strawberries for three to six days. If you have more than you need, freeze them for up to 3 months in an airtight bag.
How to Grow Strawberries In a Planter
You can also grow your strawberries in planters from seeds or transplants. With the above tips on how to grow strawberries, all you need to do is ensure your planter can accommodate at least 10-inch long roots and has room for runners.
Watch this video from Ornamental Plant And Hydroponics Channels on how to grow strawberries in hot regions:
Strawberries are rather easy fruits that can thrive in various weather conditions. This is a hardy fruit you do not want to run out of for those smoothies, cakes, ice creams, yogurts, tarts, salads, and pies. Even better, it can be stored for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Be clear on the variety you want to grow, give it a good start, take care of the fruit, and harvest a good crop in no time.
Aside from learning how to grow strawberries, what other summer fruits do you wish to plant in your backyard garden? Let us know in the comments section below.
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