Planting, Growing & Harvesting Strawberries
Look no further than your deck or backyard to find a spot for growing strawberries. These versatile fruits grow happily in containers or beds, and are easy to grow. There are two main types of strawberries. June bearing varieties produce berries all at once, usually over a three-week period. Everbearing varieties typically bear heavy crops in late spring and late summer or early fall, with lighter crops in between.
When planting strawberries, choose a spot with full sun. In warm regions, try to provide morning sun with some shade protection during the hottest part of the day. Soil should have excellent drainage. To grow strawberries in planting beds, mix 3 inches of Nature's Care® Organic Garden Soil with Water ConserveTM into the top 6 inches of native soil. In raised beds, blend equal parts garden soil and Nature's Care® Organic & Natural Potting Mix with Water ConserveTM, or use 100 percent organic Nature's Care® Organic Raised Bed Soil.
If you're planting strawberries in containers, use a pot or hanging basket that's at least 10 inches across, and fill it with Potting Mix. A traditional strawberry jar with pockets also works well for growing strawberries.
The best time of the year for planting strawberries is in the spring.
The easiest way to grow strawberries is to plant strong, vigorous young plants. Cover the roots with soil, but don't plant too deeply. The central growing bud must stay above the soil so sunlight can reach it and cause it to sprout.
You can grow strawberries from seeds, but plants won't bear fruit until the year after planting. First, stash the seeds in the freezer for 4 to 6 weeks to jumpstart germination. When planting, use Miracle-Gro® Seed Starting Potting Mix and barely cover seeds because they need some light to germinate, a process that will take about a month.
Be sure to water well after planting.
Many strawberry varieties send out runners, stems that produce baby plants. These small plants can root and grow, but for top berry yields, it's best to let only three runners remain per plant. Clip the rest off.
Be sure to weed your berry patch faithfully, and remove any dead leaves. In the fall, strawberry plants form the buds that will bloom and produce berries the following year. Cover plants with mulch over the winter to protect the newly formed buds. Typically, gardeners use a winter mulch of straw, which is where these tasty berries get their name. You can also use pine straw, chopped leaves, untreated grass clippings, or Scotts® Nature Scapes® Colour Enhanced Mulch around (but not on top of) the plants during the growing season to help keep weeds down, reduce the amount of watering needed, and keep berries clean.
When growing strawberries, keep plants well-watered. Check soil weekly, and when the top inch is dry, it's time to water. Drip irrigation works well with strawberries, because it keeps leaves and fruit dry, which helps reduce disease outbreaks.
Your strawberries will display their most amazing growth if you treat them to the power combo of Miracle-Gro® soil and plant food. Beginning a month after planting, apply Miracle-Gro® Shake 'N Feed® Tomato, Fruits & Vegetables Plant Food to restock the soil with just the kind of rich nutrition your strawberries need. Not only does it nourish your plants, but it also feeds the microbes in the soil that help those plants take up more nutrients. Be sure to follow label instructions to know how much and how often to apply.
Birds, chipmunks, squirrels and groundhogs like fresh berries and cana.
Pick strawberries in the morning, while fruits are cool. Harvest fruit that's fully colored and glossy, leaving part of the stem and the cap attached to the berry. Refrigerate berries immediately after picking without rinsing or removing the caps or stems.
In the kitchen, eat strawberries fresh, or preserve them frozen, dried, or in jam. Also consider using fresh berries in baking and beverages. Dried strawberries make a great addition to granola, oatmeal, cookies and trail mix.
You may also want to plant strawberries as a ground cover. You won't get as strong a yield as when you grow plants in their own patch, but you'll still enjoy fresh berries. Ready to start growing strawberries?