Strawberries are one of the most desirable plants to have in your garden, but many struggle bringing them to fruition. Let us help you win your berry battle with these tips!
Sun: The plants should get at least 8 hours of sunlight per day. Strawberries love the sun!
Location: Be sure the spot you choose has good soil drainage: Plant your strawberry plants either in raised beds or raised rows. Allow about 8 inches in between each plant so that they have plenty of room to spread out as they grow. Finally, make sure it is not a spot that other berries have been grown in before, or disease may set in.
Soil: Strawberries grow best in slightly acid to neutral soil with a pH of approximately 5.5 to 7.0. If the soil is too acidic, you can add lime to raise the pH level. If the soil is too alkaline, add sulfur or compost to lower the pH. Add a one-inch layer of compost or rotted manure to sandy soil. Work composted leaves into clay soil. For best results, used raised beds or containers so that you can fill with with ideal fertile, aerated soil.
Water: Strawberries have a shallow root system, so they get most of their water from the top couple of inches of soil, which also happens to be the soil that dries out the fastest. Placing a layer of mulch around the berries to help hold the moisture in the top soil. Give them about one inch of water each day: too much water can rot the crowns of strawberry plants. This will not only limit the fruiting, but this can cause the strawberry plants to die as well.
Harvesting: If you want tons of strawberries, you should pick the ripe berries often. If your berries become overripe, they will promote disease and insect problems, which will ruin your crop.
Strawberries are typically ready about 30 days after you see the first bloom. Pick the fruits as soon as they are bright red, as leaving them on the stem too long can cause rot. When you pick them, pick the green cap of the strawberry with them. Immediately take the berries to a cool place.
If you notice any underperforming plants, simply remove them to make room for the hardier plants. You can also remove plants that are causing crowding and replant them elsewhere.
Food: Start off with compost and a nitrogen-rich fertilizer: Strawberry plants thrive off of nitrogen-rich soil. Sprinkling coffee grounds around the base of the plan can help achieve this, while also acting as a mulch to keep moisture in.
Once the plant is established, switch to a fertilizer intended for growing fruits and vegetables. If strawberries are given too much nitrogen they will grow excessive foliage without flowering. (Fruit and vegetable fertilizers have a lower percentage of Nitrogen than general plant food which helps the strawberry plants produce more blossoms instead of more leaves.)
Pests: Plants that are fighting disease or parasites are not going to have much energy to produce blossoms and berries. Deal with pests and disease as soon as you notice them to keep your strawberry plants healthy. And if you do see any yellowing or rotting of the plants, remove the damaged area as soon as you can.
Planting marigolds around your strawberries is natural way to keep bunnies away, while adding ladybugs to your plants will help fight off destructive aphids. Placing a light netting over the plants will help keep birds, rabbits, and other pests at bay.