Strawberries love sun, but tolerate some shade. Good drainage is a must! Use the following steps to successfully grow a great crop of juicy sweet strawberries. Dates may be a bit different for your area we are in Zone 7 here in Northern California at 2000 feet.
1. Pick a good site - The best site will be mostly sunny with well drained acid soil with a ph of 6.0-6.3.
2. Prepare the soil – Amend your soil with Bumper Crop and E. B. Stone Starter Fertilizer. Strawberries benefit from some extra calcium such as in Dr. Earth Soft Rock Phosphate.
3. Planting the Hill System – Build your soil up into a mound about 6” tall and wide with a trench about 12” wide separating your rows. You will use the trench for watering. Cover your mound with plastic, either a red or black plastic or weed cloth this will help to keep the soil warm and weed free and deter snails and other insects that feed on the berries. Don’t cover the trench though because you want the water to drain in here. Plant your plants on each side of mound about 12” apart. See chart below for the proper planting depth.
4. Prepare Plants – Remove all flowers and runners the plants put out until the first of May so that the plants can put energy into making a good root system.
5. Water – Water by flooding the trench you made between rows depending on your soil and the weather this should be 2-3 times per week.
6. Fertilize – Besides the fertilizer at planting time you should supplement feeding by foliar feeding with a liquid fertilizer like Seaweed Extract, Fish Emulsion, or another fertilizer that is low in nitrogen about every 2-3 weeks. A high nitrogen fertilizer will cause soft berries that rot quickly.
7. Pick – Pick fruit every 2-3 days for as long as the plants keep producing or until you are tired of strawberries (does that really happen?).
8. Pests and Disease – For mites and fungal problems that are common with strawberries you can use Neem Oil, but be aware of the temperature and don’t spray if it is over 85 degrees. Also try to spray during a time of day that bees are least active. You can also us Saf-T-Side which is a petroleum based product and OMRI safe. Birds may also be a pest as they love to eat strawberries too, so you might want to cover your patch with bird netting if you notice bird activity.
9. Post Harvest – Fertilize again in late August as the berries wind down with a 10-10-10 fertilizer and remove runners which you can use for more plants for next year. If you are leaving these plants in for another year you should cut them back to about 3” above the ground and remove all foliage and any straw if you used it, do not compost this trash or burn it. You can leave a patch in place for a few years, but older plants start making smaller berries and less quantity.
Reminiscent of medieval herb planters fashioned from cracked wine jars, a strawberry pot is perfect for growing a collection of plants in a small area. The pots cupped openings keep plants contained and keep down on weed growth. Aside from strawberries these pots are great for herbs and succulents too. A common problem though is that the centers of the pots don’t always get watered properly. Here a method of planting that will help solve the problem.
· Strawberry Pot
· Pot Screen
· PVC pipe about the same height as pot with holes drilled in it about 2” apart all around the pipe
· Pea Gravel or any small rock
· Potting Mix
1. Place the pot screen over the hole in the bottom of the pot to prevent soil from washing out and insects from coming in. Scoop soil into pot up to first row of pockets.
2. Place PVC pipe into the center and push down till you have about 2” above the rim of the pot. Fill with the gravel about to where the soil level will be at the top of the pot. Keep adding soil and plant the pockets starting from the bottom up until you reach the top. Plants on the top should get tall enough to hide the PVC that is sticking up.
3. Water pot from the top taking care to water in the PVC pipe. Water pockets gently to avoid flooding out the soil. Once plants are rooted in this won’t be as much of a problem.
Recommended plants for Strawberry pots:
Strawberries, Hens and Chicks, sedums, thymes and other small herbs such as savory, chives...use your imagination!
MarthaStewart.com was used as a source for this information along with personal experience.
Strawberry season is upon us so let’s get planting!