As Spring approaches, “Growing Strawberries for Beginners: Top Tips for a Great Harvest” will help you to have your best strawberry crop ever!
Strawberries are such wonderful perennials to grow on your homestead!
Each strawberry plant is capable of producing a quart of fruit! With just 10 or so plants, you can grow enough strawberries to make jams, and jellies and even freeze for the future.
What Conditions do Strawberry Plants Need?
Strawberries can grow from zones 2-10, with at least 6-10 hours of full sun and good drainage. They need loamy soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0.
Growing strawberries organically can be achieved by the use of companion plants! After adding chive plants all through my strawberry patch, I rarely see any insects other than the pollinators!
Strawberries at the store are typically sprayed with pesticides and usually aren’t local. Personally, I don’t want to eat sprayed berries and I don’t want my family to eat them either. It only makes sense to grow your own, organically, at home!
Types of Strawberries
- June-bearing – These plants produce a full crop, in June, the season after planting.
- Everbearing – These plants will produce 2 smaller crops, one in the Spring and another in the Fall. Everbearing strawberries will yield a harvest the season they are planted.
- Day-neutral – These plants bear fruit throughout the summer.
Which one should you plant?
It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
If you like to make jam and freeze berries for later, you’re going to want June-bearing strawberries. June-bearing strawberries give you a larger crop in a shorter amount of time.
If you just want to munch on your strawberries and enjoy them with a dessert occasionally, then Everbearing or Day-neutral might be better suited for you.
Tip #1 for Growing Strawberries – Add Companion Plants
Giving your strawberries the nutrients they need will help them to produce more fruit for you. This can be accomplished by companion planting.
What are the companion plants for strawberries?
First, chives repel unwanted pests. I rarely see any bugs in my strawberry patch other than pollinators.
Second, by using the “Chop and Drop” method of fertilizing, chives bring potassium and calcium to my patch, which is exactly what strawberries LOVE! This is how to grow more strawberries with chives!
“Chop and Drop” is easy enough to do, simply grab the chives plant like you would a ponytail, and just clip 3-4 inch cuttings and let them drop on the ground.
Well-nourished plants produce more!
How to Plant Strawberry Plants Correctly
While strawberries are very hardy, they can begin to struggle if they aren’t planted correctly in the first place.
To plant strawberries correctly, dig your hole at least as large as the width and length of the root. Don’t cram the roots into a hole that’s too small.
As you replace the soil around the plant, make sure that the soil level doesn’t exceed the plant’s crown (see diagram).
Tip #2 – Growing the Best Strawberries with the Right Fertilizer
Given that strawberries like just slightly acidic soil (5.5-7.0), be sure to fertilize well with well-rotted compost or manure prior to blossoms blooming. Strawberries benefit from high-nitrogen compost made with chicken manure if you have it available.
Also, mulching heavily with straw helps to keep the soil moist and prevent weeds.
Another way to fertilize my strawberries is to use the “chop and drop” method with chives, as described above.
Tip #3 – Make Your Strawberry Plants Produce More Fruit by Replanting Runners
Take advantage of runners!
Runners are simply the strawberry plant’s offspring, or babies. If you don’t trim them from the mother plant once they have rooted, it’s put a lot of additional stress on that mother plant. (There’s a life lesson in there somewhere!) So once the runners have little root systems, it’s time to grow on their own and absorb their own nutrients!
These runners oftentimes take root somewhere all by themselves.
However, I like to create rows in my strawberry patch. This runner hasn’t taken root yet, so I will just give it a snip to separate it from the mother plant and place it where I would like it to be. But even if it has rooted, just gently pluck it out and relocate it.
Cover the roots, but don’t bury the plant too deep, just up to the crown. Water, but don’t soak.
It didn’t take long to create a couple of new rows of strawberry plants in my garden! All for free!!
If you don’t want to expand your garden, be sure to offer your runners to someone else who might just love to get a strawberry patch going!
Strawberries are indeed one of the easiest plants to grow and when they are well maintained, this perennial will keep giving year after year!