Gardening & Growing Strawberries

Strawberries are a deliciously popular fruit eaten alone or as an ingredient in jams, cakes, pies, and many other mouth-watering treats. They can be quite expensive in stores and at road-side stands. Growing your own delicious strawberries that come back year after year is rewarding as well as economical. They are relatively easy to grow, and they do not take up a lot of valuable space in the garden.

According to the website Gardening With the Garden Helper, the publication "Sweet Delicious Strawberries", says strawberries require full sun and rich, well-draining soil. Vigorous plants, according to "Sweet Delicious Strawberries", will produce an abundance of fruit for three to four seasons before replacement is necessary.

"Sweet Delicious Strawberries" says everbearing strawberry plants grow fruit producing runners that extend from the main plant. Also, they have a longer growing season than June bearing strawberry plants. Some of the everbearing strawberry varieties listed are Lasen, Ogallala, Ozark Beauty, Sequoia, and Brighton. Some June bearing strawberries recommended by "Sweet Delicious Strawberries" are Totem, Douglas, Benton, Puget Beauty, and Hood. Mail order catalogs often have a large variety of strawberry plants to choose from. Be sure to check the hardiness zone for your area to see which varieties will do well in your particular region.

The website "Strawberries in the Home Garden", written by E. Barclay Poling, Extension Horticultural Specialist, and published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, recommends testing soil pH levels approximately six months before planting strawberries. It says normal soil pH levels should be between 5.5 and 6.5, and if levels are too dolomitic lime can be added to the soil until the proper levels are reached.

The soil should be well-worked in preparation for planting. "Strawberries in the Home Garden" recommends placing June bearing plants eighteen to twenty-four inches apart in rows with approximately four feet between each row. The suggested planting method for everbearing strawberry plants is on mounds of soil that are approximately one foot apart. The same article also recommends this method of planting when there is not sufficient drainage. It adds that the crown of the plant needs to be above the soil, and the highest roots need to be one quarter inch beneath the soil. After planting, a plant fertilizer should be placed along the rows according to package directions, or if plants are mounded the fertilizer will need to be mixed into the soil mounds to prevent run-off. Blooms should be pinched off for the first four weeks so he plant can gain size and strength before producing fruit, says "Sweet Delicious Strawberries".

Mulch can help with weed control, and it helps hold in valuable moisture, according to "Strawberries in the Home Garden". Mulch is also recommended to protect strawberry plants in locations that freeze and thaw which could result in plants being uprooted. It is also said that mulch made from pine needles or straw will keep the ripening strawberries off the soil.

"Strawberries in the Home Garden" says strawberry plants are not deep-rooted and since they cannot tolerate drought conditions, during times of drought they should be watered enough to moisten the soil six to eight inches below ground once a week. "Sweet Delicious Strawberries" recommends fertilizing the strawberry plants halfway through the growing season.

Strawberries are a sweet addition to any garden, and besides being a delicious treat, they have great nutritional value. However you choose to serve them, you will eagerly anticipate the arrival of strawberries each season.

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