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Growing Strawberries

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on July 30, 2010

Almost everyone loves strawberries.  They taste delicious and are easy to grow.  Strawberries are commonly planted in February in this area.  However, there are some varieties that actually do better and produce more strawberries if planted in October.

Strawberries are native to the Americas, central Europe, and the Himalayas.  The strawberries we have in this country are generally the result of the hybridization of two species native to the Americas.  Fragaria chiloensis is found along the Pacific coast from Alaska, along the beaches of Chile to the Andean highlands.  Fragaria virginiana is native to meadows throughout central and eastern North America from Ontario to Louisiana.  Wild strawberries are actually considered a weed in those areas.

There are two general types of strawberries.  Junebearing strawberries bloom in response to short day-lengths, are planted in late fall, and product fruit the spring after planting.  Everbearing strawberries bloom in response to long day conditions and produce fruit two or more times a season.  Everbearing strawberries are planted in February in this part of Texas.  The hot summers tend to be very stressful on everbearing strawberries and they tend to produce a small amount of small strawberries.

Junebearing strawberries, in contrast, do very well in this part of Texas.  When planted in October, they may actually produce fruit from February to June, depending on how temperate the weather is that year.  Twenty-five plants will usually product enough strawberries for an average size family.  Conveniently enough, strawberry crowns are usually sold in groups of twenty or twenty-five plants.

Strawberries grow best in full sun.  They like loose, fertile soil with lots of organic matter in it.  You should work lots of compost into their beds before planting.  They do not like to be wet for long periods of time.  This means you should make sure that the strawberry bed has good drainage.  If you do not have a sight with good drainage, you will need to grow your strawberries in a raised bed.  Avoid planting strawberries in places you have grown potatoes, tomatoes, or a lawn recently as they share diseases and insect pests with these plants.

When you buy your strawberries, you will be given plants that are dormant.  These plants typically consist of a leaves, which are probably brown and dead, the crown, and the roots.  When planting, make sure you cover the roots and only half the crown.  Make a trench deep enough to set the roots vertically.  Don’t bend the roots horizontally, as the plants won’t grow well that way.

June bearing plants need lots of room to spread out.  Plant them 12 to 24 inches apart.  Space your rows 36 to 40 inches apart.  The first year, pinch off runners so the plants concentrate on growing and making strawberries.  For the second year, allow the runners to grow into mature plants.  The third year, remove the original plants and allow the runners to produce strawberries.  June bearing strawberry plants don’t produce as much after the third year, and usually stop producing all together by the fourth year.  This cultivation method avoids this problem.

Planting in October lets the strawberry plants become established before the frosts of winter.  In order to survive these frosts, you need to mulch the strawberries two to four inches when planting.  When it is supposed to be freezing or below, cover the plants with hay to a depth of about two inches.  On nice days, remove the hay to allow the plants to grow.  Follow this pattern through out the winter. In late January, fertilize the plants.  Strawberry flower buds are sensitive to frost, so be sure and protect them anytime a frost is predicted.  Otherwise, remove the hay and leave it on each side of the plants as additional mulch.  You will need to fertilize according to your soil test.  Follow this January fertilization with another in mid-June, when the plants stop producing strawberries, and one in late September, before the fall starts.  Cull old plants right after the plants stop producing, in mid-June, before you fertilize.  Strawberries need the same amount of water once they are established as other plants – one inch a week.

If you plant your Junebearing plants in October, protect them from frost throughout the winter and early spring, and give them some tender loving care, you should have all the strawberries you can eat in the spring and early summer.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Ella August 4, 2010 at 3:29 am

I’m one of those who love strawberries. 🙂 As you have said there are two types of strawberries. Which of the two Everbearing and June bearing strawberries is good to plant this month? And which of the two taste good? Have you heard of Day Neutral strawberries? Is it also another type of strawberries? Thanks so much for sharing simple yet informative article on how to grow strawberries.

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Stephanie Suesan Smith August 4, 2010 at 7:12 am

Day neutral is another name for everbearing. Planting strawberries now, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, is too soon. You should wait until September or October because it is too hot right now. What variety you plant depends on where you live. Your county Extension Agent can tell you which varieties grow best in your area. Without knowing where you are, I cannot tell you which ones are adapted to the conditions there.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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martine from Garden Sheds August 25, 2010 at 11:09 am

I love strawberries but oddly I’ve never thought of growing my own. If they’re best not grown in a hot climate that works well for me because I live in Britain! Almost everyone in my family likes them so I think it would be really good to have some growing in the garden we can have whenever we want!

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Stephanie Suesan Smith August 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm

You can grow raspberries, I bet. I remember being jealous when I visited Britain once and people were picking them from their gardens.

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Jay August 25, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Hi there Stephanie, I love the guide and I want to try it, the problem is the climate, strawberries don’t like hot climate right? By the way do you have guide on how to grow raspberries?
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Stephanie Suesan Smith August 25, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Strawberries will grow in the spring in a warmer climate. Raspberries really don’t like hot climates. Blackberries would probably grow well, though.

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Heather November 23, 2010 at 12:47 am

Yummy yummy strawberries. I want them in my backyard. Thanks for the wonderful guide.
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Refrigerator November 29, 2010 at 6:19 am

Ummm… i luv strawberries.. I do have certain queries on strawberry plantation. I got them cleared here.

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