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flower and fruit gardening guides home :: fruit growing

How to grow strawberries

If your green thumb gets itchy when the frost leaves the ground, now?s the time to learn how to grow strawberries!

Your strawberry bed will do best if you begin giving it the care it needs in the fall.

Strawberries aren?t competitive and will lose if forced to compete for water or nutrients. If you till a spot for strawberries in the fall, you?ll eliminate a lot of flora that causes problems for them during the growing season. Choose a spot away from large trees, which may send roots into your strawberry bed. When making a strawberry bed in an established garden, be sure to locate it away from any spot where you have grown peppers, tomatoes, eggplant or potatoes. These plants can harbor verticillium wilt, which is devastating to strawberries.  In the spring, after the frost is out of the ground and the soil has dried, till the soil again. Now you are readyThe fall is also the right time to add rich organic matter, such as manure or compost, to your soil. to ?set? your strawberry plants.

An important part of knowing how to grow strawberries is understanding the differences in the three strawberry cultivars (varieties) and how they grow.

Strawberries like loamy, well-drained but moist soil.

 They generally need a minimum of six hours sunlight a day. The strawberry plant that you ?set? into the ground is the mother plant. Choose a cool and cloudy day for planting strawberries. Make a wide, shallow hole for the mother plant that covers her roots, being sure to leave about half of her crown (the short stem) exposed. Roots should point down and form a small fan. Give the mother a good drink of water. The pattern you use for planting strawberries will depend on your choice of cultivar.

June bearing strawberries are popular for their voluptuous fruit and the large crop they produce in the early spring. For easiest strawberry care and optimum harvest, plant June bearing strawberries 18 to 24 inches apart in raised beds (to allow good drainage) of rows, spaced three to four feet apart. The mother plant will send out runners (daughter plants) that will root and develop into a matted row about 18 inches wide. Nip off any runners from the daughter plants. During the first season, also pluck all blossoms from your plants to give both mothers and daughters time to become firmly established. The disadvantage to June bearing strawberries is that you won?t get a crop the first year.

Planting strawberries in hills makes for easier strawberry care and weeding. The other two types of strawberry cultivars, ever-bearing and day-neutral, do well planted in hills. When planting strawberries in hills, nip off all runners. This allows the mother plant to develop more crowns and flower stalks. Plant rows in groups of two to four plants with a two-foot path between rows and the plants spaced at about a foot apart.

The name ever-bearing strawberry is a little deceptive for this cultivar isn?t ?ever bearing,? but will produce a nice harvest twice a season, once in the spring and once in the early autumn. During the first season, pluck all blossoms from ever-bearing cultivars through the end of June. After that, the blossoms will set fruit for a late summer harvest.

The third variety of strawberry cultivar is the day-neutral, which will produce small berries all through the summer. When growing day-neutral strawberries, pluck off only the first set of blossoms and after that allow the fruit to set. Day neutral strawberries are typically smaller but are very sweet!

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