Strawberries- our little jewels of summer. Nothing you can buy at the grocery store can compare to fresh homegrown strawberries. You’ll be lucky if any of them even make it out of the garden!
Prepare a location in full sun with well-draining soil. Add three inches of compost in preparation and mix into the topsoil to a depth of twelve inches. If your soil is heavy clay, consider keeping your strawberries in raised beds for additional drainage.
While strawberries can be started from seed, we prefer to start them from bare root plants which are affordable, productive, and easy to plant! Before planting, soak your bare roots in a bowl or bucket of water, only submerging the roots, not the crown. Leave them soaking for about 20 minutes. This helps to bring the strawberries out of dormancy and wake them up before planting. Dig your planting holes to the length of the roots and twice as wide. Gently spread out the roots in the hole and fill in with soil, keeping the crown of the plant at soil level. It is especially important not to bury the crown because this is where the plant will grow from. Burying it will take a toll on the fruit and runner production. Space the plants plants eighteen inches apart in rows that are three feet apart.
Water well after planting and lay a two inch layer of mulch around each plant to conserve moisture. Throughout the season make sure strawberries get one to two inches of water per week. Bare root strawberry plants should begin leafing out in early summer. Keep the bed weeded, taking care to not disturb the crown of the plant. Consider an application of a balanced fertilizer (a 10-10-10 or 5-5-5 will do) as you start to see leaf growth
The plants are usually ripe about thirty dates after a full bloom. The largest berries develop at the center of each cluster. Fresh berries should be picked when they are completely red, at the peak of ripeness. Not all of the berries will ripen at the same time so plan to harvest every two to three days.
If you are working to build a perennial strawberry patch, plan on pinching at least 75% of the blossoms the first year so the plants put energy into root and runner development instead of fruit. This will help to establish a berry patch that will be fruitful for many years!