Sunday, December 17

How to Grow Strawberries

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Growing strawberries is fun for all ages.  Getting your bed started takes a bit of patience, but it is worth it when you taste the fruits of your labor.  Early in the spring, prepare your bed for planting.  Make sure to choose a location in a spot receiving at least 6 hours of full sun each day and. 

Strawberries need fertile, well-drained soil.  Test your soil before planting.  Soil test kits can be found at most garden centers and are an essential yet inexpensive tool.  Replenish missing nutrients in your strawberry bed with a good fertilizer.  A good all purpose fertilizer will be marked 10-10-10.  Till the soil with a rototiller or by hand to help evenly distribute nutrients and break up the soil.

Next, you will need to decide what type of strawberries you want to grow.  June-bearing plants fruit once per year.  Everbearing varieties will give fruit throughout the entire growing season.  Strawberry plants are usually sold in bundles of 25 or 50.  To choose a reliable variety for your area, consult your local garden center or extension office.

Plant early in the spring, 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost date in your growing area. 

Strawberry plants will put off runners that will self-root and grow into additional strawberry plants.  During the first year of planting, pinch of all blossoms and allow runners to grow.  Ths builds stronger strawberry plants. 

The second season your plants will be well-establishd and ready to produce delicious strawberries. 

Plants should be divided every 3 to 4 years.  You will know it is time to separate plants when they yield less strawberries and growth slows.

Set plants in early spring.  The grown of the plant needs to be set at soil level.  Do not bury the crown, as this will harm your plant growth.  Gently fan out the roots and bury them completely. 

Strawberries like to be moist.  Remember to water regularly. Strawberry plants should receive at least 1-inch of water per week throughout the growing season.

Weed control is essential to the success of your strawberries.  Place a layer of mulch, straw, weed fabric, etc. around your strawberry plants to ensure good weed control.

During the second season when your plants are well established, they will give of white blossoms which will turn into delicious strawberries.  Allow the berries to ripen to full red.  Check berries for ripeness and harvest daily throughout the growing season. 

If birds become a nuisance in your strawberry bed, suspend an aluminum pie tin in your garden or cover the bed with plastic netting.

At the end of the growing season, strawberry plants will go dormant.  They will remain dormant throughout the winter months and grow back in the spring. 

In colder climates, you should much your strawberry plants with straw in the fall to protect them during the cold winter months.  Remember to clear the mulch from the plants in the spring. 

Happy Strawberry Gardening!

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