A Complete Guide to Growing Strawberries For Beginners

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Are you a gardening enthusiast looking to embark on a strawberry-growing adventure? Look no further! This guide to growing strawberries for beginners will equip you with the knowledge and essential tips to grow juicy, flavorful strawberries right in your backyard. Whether you have limited space or a large garden, strawberries are the perfect fruit for beginners.

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In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything from choosing the right strawberry varieties to preparing the soil, planting, nurturing, and harvesting your delicious strawberries. Get ready to enjoy the taste of sweet success as we delve into the world of strawberry cultivation!

Understanding Strawberries

Before diving into the world of strawberry cultivation, it’s essential to understand the different types of strawberries available and the benefits of growing them. Strawberries come in various varieties, each with its unique characteristics, flavors, and growing habits. Understanding these differences will help you choose the most suitable variety for your needs.

There are two main types of strawberries: June-bearing and everbearing. June-bearing strawberries produce a single large harvest during the early summer months, while everbearing strawberries provide multiple harvests throughout the growing season. Both types have their advantages, and the choice depends on your preferences and local climate.

There are two different ways to add strawberries to your garden. Established plants or bare roots. Established or potted plants are going to cost more per plant, however they are immediately ready to go into your garden. Bare roots are a dormant strawberry plant, typically in its first year, that can be planted in pots or in-ground.

Check out this guide on growing your strawberries from Bare Root Strawberries!

In addition to their delicious taste, strawberries offer numerous benefits. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a nutritious addition to your diet. Growing your own strawberries also allows you to avoid pesticides and enjoy the fruits of your labor, literally!

Let’s move on to selecting the perfect spot for your strawberry patch.

everbearing strawberries

Selecting the Perfect Spot

Strawberries thrive in full sunlight, so choose a location in your garden that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. Adequate sunlight ensures proper growth, flowering, and fruit production. Observe your garden throughout the day to determine the sunniest spots.

In terms of soil, strawberries prefer well-draining, loamy soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH level and make necessary amendments to achieve the optimal range. If your soil is heavy or compacted, consider raised beds or container gardening to improve drainage and aeration.

Preparing the Soil

growing strawberries in raised beds

Proper soil preparation is crucial for the success of your strawberry plants. Start by removing any existing weeds, rocks, or debris from the area. Loosen the soil using a garden fork or tiller to improve its texture and promote root growth.

Testing the soil pH is essential to ensure your strawberries thrive. Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil, so adjust the pH level accordingly. Incorporate organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure to enhance soil fertility and drainage.

In cases where your soil is heavy or poorly drained, such as with clay soils, consider adding sand or perlite to improve its structure. This will prevent waterlogged conditions and reduce the risk of root rot.

Now that your soil is prepared, it’s time to choose the right strawberry varieties for your garden.

Choosing the Right Strawberry Varieties

When it comes to selecting the right strawberry varieties, there are a few factors to consider, such as your climate, available space, and personal preferences. Let’s explore the two main types of strawberries and some popular cultivars that are well-suited for beginners.

June-Bearing Strawberries:

June-bearing strawberries, as the name suggests, produce a bountiful harvest during a specific period, usually in early summer. These varieties are favored by many gardeners for their exceptional flavor and large fruit size. Some popular June-bearing cultivars include:

propagating strawberry runners
Honeoye Strawberry Plant

A hardy, consistent producer. This vigorous plant bears crops reliably, with good runner production. The strawberries are delicious fresh, frozen, or in jams and wines. Cold hardy. Ripens in June. Self-pollinating. A licensed variety of Cornell University.

how to plant strawberry runners
Sequoia Strawberry Plant

Early-maturing variety! Grow your own excellent dessert-quality fruit without the wait. Medium-height plants develop vigorous runners for increased berry production. Large, glossy berries are plump and juicy with a long conic shape. Flavor is outstandingly sweet and subacid with highly pleasing aromatic qualities.

what to do with strawberry runners
Sparkle Strawberry Plant

Shining taste and appearance. Medium-sized fruit has outstanding flavor whether they’re enjoyed fresh, frozen, or in preserves. Plants are productive and easy to grow, bearing reliable crops of deep red berries even in northern gardens. Escapes frost injury. Cold-hardy. Ripens in late June. Self-pollinating.

Everbearing Strawberries:

Everbearing strawberries provide multiple harvests throughout the growing season, making them a popular option for continuous fruit production. They typically produce a heavier initial crop in spring, followed by smaller harvests in summer and fall. Here are a few recommended everbearing cultivars:

Eversweet® Strawberry Plant

Perfect for patio gardens. This everbearing plant produces sweet, long, cone-shaped strawberries in its very first year! It will continue producing, even when temperatures exceed 80ºF. Ripens each summer and continues to fruit into fall. Self-pollinating.

Ozark Beauty Strawberry Plant

Enjoy fruit and a protective ground cover. In addition to keeping weeds at bay, this everbearer produces wave after wave of sweet, delicious, scarlet-red strawberries. In our test plots, this is one of the hardiest, most vigorous, heaviest-producing everbearing strawberries. Cold hardy. Ripens in early summer and continues to fruit until first frost. Self-pollinating.

White Pineberry Strawberry Plant

Distinct appearance and tropical taste. Small- to medium-sized white strawberries are aromatic and flavorful, with a taste similar to pineapple. Use alongside red varieties as groundcover or border plants for landscape interest with an edible-fruit bonus. Everbearing. Ripens in spring, and continues to fruit until first frost. Self-pollinating. Plant another strawberry variety to improve fruit production.

Consider your local climate and growing conditions when selecting strawberry varieties. Consult with local gardening experts or extension services to identify cultivars that are well-adapted to your region.

By choosing a combination of June-bearing and everbearing varieties, you can enjoy an extended strawberry season with abundant harvests. Experiment with different cultivars to discover your personal favorites and ensure a continuous supply of luscious strawberries throughout the growing season.

planting strawberry plants

Planting Strawberries

Once you have selected your strawberry varieties, it’s time to prepare for planting. Strawberries can be grown in both traditional garden beds and containers, depending on your available space and preferences. Here are some key considerations for planting strawberries:

Container Gardening

If space is limited, consider growing strawberries in containers. Choose a container with drainage holes and a capacity of at least 5 gallons to provide ample room for root development. Fill the container with a well-draining potting mix, specifically formulated for containers, and position it in a sunny location.

Check out our full guide on Growing Strawberries in Containers!

growing strawberries in containers

In-Ground Planting

For in-ground planting, prepare the soil as discussed earlier in the guide. Make sure to space your strawberry plants properly, allowing enough room for their runners to spread. Aim for a spacing of 12 to 18 inches between plants and keep rows approximately 2 to 3 feet apart.

When planting strawberries, dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots and crown of the plant. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring the crown is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole and gently firm the soil around the roots, being careful not to cover the crown with soil.

Water the newly planted strawberries thoroughly to settle the soil and provide moisture to the roots. Maintain consistent soil moisture throughout the growing season, ensuring the plants receive about 1 inch of water per week.

By selecting the right varieties and planting them correctly, you’ve set the foundation for a successful strawberry garden. In the next section, we will explore the essential care and maintenance practices to ensure healthy and productive strawberry plants.

Essential Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance are crucial for the health and productivity of your strawberry plants. By following these essential tips, you can ensure that your strawberries thrive and produce an abundance of delicious fruits.

Watering and Irrigation

Strawberries require consistent moisture, especially during the fruiting season. Water deeply and thoroughly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overhead watering, as it can lead to foliar diseases. Consider using drip irrigation or soaker hoses to deliver water directly to the plant roots.

Weed and Pest Control:

Regular weeding is essential to prevent competition for nutrients and water. Mulching around the strawberry plants with straw or wood chips can help suppress weeds. Be vigilant in monitoring for pests such as slugs, snails, and aphids. Remove any infested plants or use organic pest control methods to protect your strawberries.

Fertilization:

Feed your strawberry plants with a balanced organic fertilizer or a specifically formulated strawberry fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer according to the package instructions, typically in early spring and after the first harvest. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as it can result in lush foliage but fewer fruits.

Runners and Daughter Plants:

Strawberries produce runners, which are long stems that produce daughter plants. These daughter plants can be transplanted to expand your strawberry patch or shared with other gardeners. Allow a few runners to root and establish before cutting off the remaining ones to redirect energy back into fruit production.

Check out our comprehensive guide on multiplying your Strawberry plants with Runners!

Renovation and Renewal:

After the harvest season, perform renovation to promote vigorous growth for the next year. Remove old, damaged leaves and trim the runners to encourage new growth. Thin overcrowded plants to maintain proper spacing and airflow.

Winter Protection:

Depending on your climate, winter protection may be necessary to shield your strawberry plants from extreme cold. Apply a layer of straw mulch or cover the plants with row covers to insulate them during winter. This will help prevent frost damage and ensure healthy plants in the following season.

Regularly inspect your strawberry plants for signs of diseases such as gray mold, powdery mildew, or strawberry root rot. Promptly address any issues with appropriate organic treatments or seek advice from local gardening experts.

By providing proper care and maintenance, you’ll be rewarded with healthy strawberry plants that produce abundant fruits year after year. Now, let’s explore how to protect your strawberry plants from common threats and ensure their long-term success.

strawberry plant care winter

Protecting Your Strawberry Plants

To maximize the success of your strawberry garden, it’s crucial to protect your plants from various threats, including weeds, pests, diseases, and adverse weather conditions. Here are some measures you can take to safeguard your strawberry plants:

Mulching:

Apply a layer of straw or other organic mulch around the plants. Mulching helps suppress weeds, retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and prevent direct contact between the fruits and the soil.

Weed Control:

Regularly remove weeds from the strawberry patch to minimize competition for nutrients and moisture. Be careful not to damage the shallow roots of the strawberry plants while weeding.

Pest Management:

Monitor your plants for common pests like slugs, snails, aphids, and strawberry root weevils. Use organic pest control methods such as handpicking, introducing beneficial insects, or applying environmentally friendly insecticides, if necessary.

Disease Prevention:

To prevent diseases, ensure proper air circulation by spacing the plants adequately. Avoid overhead watering, as it can promote fungal diseases. If you notice signs of disease, promptly remove and dispose of infected plants to prevent further spread.

Plants by Stark Bro's

Netting:

If birds are a concern in your area, consider covering your strawberry plants with bird netting to protect the fruits from being eaten.

Protection from Frost:

In regions with frost or freezing temperatures, cover your plants with row covers or blankets overnight to protect them from frost damage. Remove the covers during the day to allow airflow and sunlight.

By implementing these protective measures, you can safeguard your strawberry plants and ensure their health and productivity. Now that you’ve learned how to care for and protect your plants, let’s move on to the exciting part – harvesting and enjoying your homegrown strawberries!

Harvesting and Enjoying Your Strawberries

Harvesting strawberries at the right time is essential to enjoy their full flavor and sweetness. Follow these guidelines to determine when your strawberries are ready for picking:

strawberry varieties

Color and Texture:

Ripe strawberries will have vibrant, uniform red coloration. They should be firm, yet plump, with a glossy appearance. Avoid picking strawberries that are still partially green or white, as they are not fully ripe.

Taste Test:

Conduct a taste test to ensure optimal sweetness. Gently pluck a strawberry from the plant and sample it. If it’s sweet and flavorful, it’s time to start harvesting.

To pick strawberries, use your thumb and forefinger to grasp the stem just above the fruit. Give it a gentle twist and pull, allowing the stem to detach from the plant without damaging the fruit or the crown. Avoid yanking or pulling forcefully, as it can damage the plant.

Harvest strawberries frequently to prevent overripening or spoilage. Depending on the variety, you may need to harvest every couple of days during the peak season. Remember, freshly picked strawberries are highly perishable, so handle them carefully and refrigerate them promptly.

Once you’ve harvested your strawberries, the possibilities for enjoying them are endless. Indulge in their juicy sweetness by eating them fresh, adding them to fruit salads, making delicious strawberry jam, or incorporating them into mouthwatering desserts like strawberry shortcake or pies.

Congratulations! You now have the knowledge and insights to embark on a successful strawberry-growing journey. From choosing the right varieties and preparing the soil to caring for your plants and enjoying the fruits of your labor, you’re equipped with the tips and tricks needed for a thriving strawberry garden. Start small, learn from your experiences, and soon you’ll be savoring the delicious taste of homegrown strawberries. Happy growing!

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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