Growing Strawberries – The Complete How To Guide

If you love the flavor of fresh berries, growing strawberries at home can be an incredibly rewarding experience.   can be a tasty experience. Nothing gets more local than harvesting your own berries at home. Here are a few simple steps that will show you how to grow strawberries in a pot:

Tools
Strawberry plants/plugs
Planting pot
Coco fiber (80%)
Perlite or Preferred Coarse Aggregate (20%)
Plant Food 
Spray bottle/water
5-gallon bucket or slightly larger container

Step 1: Pour coco fiber into a 5-gallon bucket until it is about 2/3 full and add just enough water until fiber is damp and cool to the touch. It should not be dripping or have water standing in the bottom. Break apart any clumps with your fingers and work the fiber with your hands until it is light and airy.

Step 2: Add four to five handfuls of perlite into your coco fiber and stir with your hands. (Approximately one handful per gallon of coco fiber is just enough.)

Step 3: Use your hands to scoop up your coco fiber/perlite mixture into your container until the soil is about one inch from the top.

Step 4: Use your fingers to pull back just enough of your planting medium in the pot to bury the plug even with the existing roots. Do not cover up the stems or pedals with the coco fiber. If planting more than one strawberry plant in a pot, be sure to space them apart to allow them room to spread. (The length of an average hand is a good measuring stick for the amount of space needed between plants.)

Step 5: Water each plant with liquid fertilizer as written on the package directions.

Step 6: Place your planter in direct sunlight where it will be exposed for the majority of the waking day.

Step 7: Rotate your planter once or twice a day to facilitate even growth. Spritz all your plants lightly with water each time you rotate the planter. (This will increase the humidity.)

Step 8: Water as needed. Your plants should never be soggy or bone dry. A good indicator that it may be time to water is when the coco fiber on the top begins to turn a lighter shade of brown. If you are a heavy spritzer with water, you may find that you may need to pour water on your plants less often.

For More Information on How To Grow Strawberries and 10 Best Strawberry Recipes click on the following link 

Strawberries: How to Grow and Care.
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You may be contemplating the fruits you would wish to enjoy eating as you stroll out in your home garden. Strawberries are a great option to consider. If you wish to grow these adorable and delicious fruits, this is the best place to learn the tips.
We equip you with a suitable guide and make you ready to own your own garden full of berries to enjoy throughout the fruiting season. This description will encompass knowledge on suitable environmental conditions, when and where to plant your strawberry plants, and tips on how to plant and care for the plants.
Count on us for better skills and know-how going about growing healthy and ever red and adorable strawberries.
Best tips on How to Grow Healthy Strawberries
1. Suitable Conditions- This fruit plant grows best in well-drained loamy soil that is rich in organic matter and mildly acidic with pH of 5.7 to 6.5. Ensure the environment where you want to grow strawberries has those features and is less salty. Strawberry plant is highly sensitive to salt and may result in to ‘Leaf burn’.
2. Suitable time- There are two common types of strawberries termed as cultivars
a. Ever-bearing cultivars-This type fruits twice per season upon maturing. It can be a suitable one to have as it assures you of continuous supply with the fruits. There are several varieties under this cultivar including Quinault, Ozark beauty and Fort Laramie. Most of the varieties here are known to be the stable and disease resistant choice. They are also low temperature tolerant though they need ong days’ to bud, flower, and fruit well.
b. June-bearers cultivars-In this type, fruits are produced once per season and predominantly during the summer time. Varieties in this category include Earliglow, Hood and chandler among others. These varieties are highly productive compared to the ever-bearer cultivars. They are only stable with temperate climatic conditions.
To decide on the appropriate time to start growing strawberries, the above choices are to be considered. Also, whether you are starting from the seeds to mature strawberry or from supplied seedlings can be a guide on when to start growing the fruits.
Ideally, two months to summertime can be a good gauge as the plants require no excess water in the soil. Six or more hours of sunshine and lighting are necessary for this fruit plant to do well especially when fruiting ensues. The ever-bearing variety is the exception to offer surplus production even in low temperatures of 32 Degree Celsius or less. Otherwise, target the spring and summer times to start growing your strawberries for better harvests.
3. How to Plant Strawberry plants?
Strawberries can be grown in either special pots or on the ground that has been prepared and made into beds.
If you want to start with seeds, it is advisable you freeze the seeds over two weeks to one month to optimize the chances of quality yields. During this period, you can be doing your soil preparation ensuring that organic matter is in plenty.
Ensure all the weeds are removed and soil is turned over adequately. Farmyard manure is to be added few days before planting of the seedling. You can create a soil bed to enhance sufficient drainage. Seeds take about one month to sprout from where you can expect first flowering and fruiting. Upon soil preparation and enrichment, planting can be considered. Dig a considerable hole; separate the strawberry plant from the container while preserving the soil.
Put the plant in the hole and cover it with surrounding soil ensuring the base or crown is relatively above the soil level. Press the soil to stabilize the plant and you can much it.
Spacing is important between the plants. There are two systems applied in large-scale cultivation of strawberries.
a. Hill System-Plants in this system is being placed in raised soil bed following transplantation. The spacing is about 30cm between each plant and there are no runners to maximize production. About 22, 000 plants can cover a one-acre piece of land.
b. Matted system-Runners are incorporated in this system with narrow rows between plants compared to the Hill system. Plants can be up to 50cm apart but this space is reduced by the runners to about 30cm as is in the hill system.
Lower yields are realized when using this system as compared to the above system.
4. Caring for your Strawberry Plants
Planting is one step to serving yourself with delicious fruits such as strawberry. Caring for the plant throughout its prime life is another and very critical step.
You may have started caring for the plant before planting in the garden through proper soil preparation. As mentioned above, strawberry takes up to three months to start fruition. Weeding and adding farm manures is a continuous process to achieve greater yields.
Caution should be taken during weeding as strawberry plants have very shallow root systems. Getting rid of the weeds will also reduce nutritional competition since the plants rely on the topsoil nutrients with the shallow roots. Use of herbicides can be best weeding option.
Regular watering is paramount to the good growth of these plants. For the first 2 weeks, at least twice a week watering using less-pressure pumps is advisable. This is in places which are wet and dry though. If need be, use minimum watering during the fruiting period as sunshine is highly needed. Also, minimize keeping the leaves wet as this invites fungal infestation and may be risky to the well-being of the plants and products.
Soil enrichment is also critical in caring for the plant as it grows and produces. Organic matter is the most preferable source of soil enrichment as well as farmyard manure. However, inorganic components of Ammonium, Phosphorus, and Nitrogen have shown great impact if used well.
Monitor your soil acidity and alkalinity regularly. Strawberries are acid friendly; doing great in soil pH of 5.7 to 6.5. Sunshine helps in swelling and ripening of the fruits. This means for pot-grown berries, exposure to sunshine is a duty.
Ensure the safety of your strawberry plants for healthy fruits. This will include watching out for pests and diseases, creating windbreakers as the plants may be swept away. Birds can be your great competitors in growing strawberries as they eat every part of the plant. Other pests include mites, nematodes, and caterpillars.
Diseases such as leathery rot and powdery mildew can be disastrous. Always be ready to spend to maintain these plants as you enjoy the berries.

Unlike the common June-bearing strawberries, the day-neutral strawberries flower and produce fruit anytime temperatures are between 35° F. and 85° F. These strawberries will not produce a single “bumper crop” of berries in June, but will instead produce berries throughout the summer and as late as October in some seasons. Unlike June-bearing strawberries the day-neutral types will yield well during their first year when they are planted. Day-neutral strawberries do not send out runners profusely like the June-bearing types and therefore you will be managing the planting differently.

Site Selection:
Day-neutral strawberries grow best in a sunny location on deep, well-drained, sandy loam soil with a pH of approximately 6.2. The day-neutral strawberries are also ideal for planting as “annuals” in containers. Strawberries do not tolerate extremes in pH (less than 5.5 or greater than 7.0). Limestone and other soil amendments that are used to adjust soil pH require at least two months of warm weather to work, so plan ahead to leave enough time to amend the soil if necessary.

Plants can be productive over a broad range of soil types, but extremes should be
avoided; clay soils retain moisture but are often poorly drained, and sandy soils
require irrigation. The addition of organic matter such as high quality finished
compost can help improve sandy or clay soils.

Adequate soil drainage is essential for healthy strawberries. Home gardeners
should plant on a ridge or in raised beds if soil drains poorly or consider selecting a
more suitable site. Strawberries are shallow-rooted plants and benefit from
irrigation. Raised bed plantings may dry out sooner that conventional planting.
Irrigation provides frost protection as well.

When plants arrive, keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to plant. Just before planting you will want to soak the roots in water for a few hours.

Early Care

Planting:
Place plants in the soil as soon as possible in the spring. Avoid exposing plants to sun and wind. Cool, cloudy weather is ideal for planting. When plants are set, the roots should extend vertically into the soil and be completely covered just to the crown level; do not bury the crowns. It may be necessary to cut the roots back to 4 inches before setting. During the first few weeks after planting, be sure plants have adequate water. Fall planting is not recommended.

Cultural Systems and Runner Removal:
Day-neutral cultivars do not produce runners profusely, so attempting to establish a matted row is not practical. Plant them 5–9 inches apart in single rows that are spaced 42 apart. With this system
remove the runners for the entire first season, which will increase yields significantly. Another option, which will reduce competition and increase yields, is a staggered double
row planting system. With this system plants are spaced 10–18 inches apart, alternating them in two narrow rows that are just 8 inches apart. Space each staggered double row in your
garden 42 inches apart.

Flower and Fruiting:
Day-neutral plants produce flowers from the time of planting through frost in autumn. Fruits will form in about 30 days after flowers open. Cover the plants with 2 inches of mulch in the late fall when temperatures approach 20° F. Remove the mulch in early spring around the
end of March to mid-April after the threat of severely cold weather has passed.

Maintenance

Watering: Strawberry plants should receive 1 inch of water each week, either by rainfall or irrigation.

Mulching: Day-neutral strawberries perform best when mulched with straw immediately after planting. Mulched plants have cleaner fruit and suffer less drought stress.

Harvesting: For maximum sweetness and flavor pick fruit a day or two after they are ripe. Berries picked before they are completely red will ripen, but they will not sweeten off the vine. Slightly unripe berries can be used for making jam. Under favorable conditions, expect a total yield of about one quart of fruit per foot of matted row. Immediately remove berries that do not ripen because they harbor diseases and attract insects.

For long-term storage of fresh berries, select firm berries that are not yet fully ripe, cool them immediately after harvest, and wrap in plastic after cooling. Store as close to 33 degrees F. as possible, but be sure the berries do not freeze. Before using, allow the berries to warm inside the plastic wrap to prevent condensation from forming directly on the berries. When these steps are followed, strawberries will be of acceptable quality for several days.

Resource: Cornell Guide to Growing Fruit at Home. Cornell University. Horticulture diagnostic laboratory.

 

Types and Recommended Varieties of Strawberries

When it comes to choosing the best strawberries to add to your garden, it can seem a bewildering state of affairs.

Varieties of Strawberries

SourceJapanese Info

You have a vast range of different varieties at your disposal but first it pays to double down on the 3 main types of strawberry.

  • Day Neutral Plants
  • Everbearing Plants
  • June Bearing Plants

We will look at these cultivars or types and draw your attention to the best varieties in each category.

After that, we’ll explore some other notable varieties and some key points to consider when choosing the best strawberries for your needs.

Types of Strawberries with Suggested Varieties

2.1 Day Neutral Strawberries

Day Neutral Strawberries

In the world of strawberries, day neutral are a fairly new entry first developed in the 1960s.

When it comes to setting flower buds, this type of strawberry is not dependent on the length of the day. By contrast, everbearing strawberries demand long days to kickstart buds while June bearing need short days.

Day neutrals will yield fruit throughout the full growing season weather conditions permitting. This equates to temperatures below 90F.

There are 3 peak periods of fruiting with day neutrals. These normally fall in June, the middle of July and then late August meaning your crop can be spread out perfectly.

Best Varieties

  • Albion: With large and symmetrical berries, Albions have a deep, intense red coloring both inside and out. The fruit yielded is firm and great for both fresh use and canning
  • Seascape: If you’re looking for reliable and consistently large crops of fruit, give Seascape a shot. The large berries are sweet and juicy. While they are great eaten fresh, they are particularly suitable for preserves or jellies
  • Tribute: Tribute strawberries deliver medium berries that are sweet with a deep flavor. They are very vigorous and highly resistant to disease

2.2 Everbearing Strawberries

The name of this type of strawberry is misleading. You will certainly not get a substantial crop for the duration of the growing season with everbearing fruit.

More realistically, you’ll get 2 or 3 harvests in spring/early summer then towards the end of summer/beginning of fall.

If the conditions are in your favor, you might also manage a small dribble of fruit in between these times.

Best Varieties

  • Fort Laramie: While neither vigorous nor overly productive, Fort Laramie compensates with extremely sweet berries. Hardy, disease-resistant and able to cope with cold winters, this type of strawberry is versatile and rewarding to grow
  • Ozark Beauty: This brisk grower will give you bright red, medium-sized fruit. It will be slightly soft and pretty sweet. It’s a cold hardy variety and a banker as a first year-fruiter
  • Quinault: Among the most popular everbearing varieties, Quinault strawberries are medium-sized and incredibly sweet. The soft fruit is not ideal for freezing. You’ll enjoy 3 primary harvests in spring, summer and fall

2.3 June Bearing Strawberries

With this cultivar, you will only get one harvest each year but it should be a bumper one!

June Bearing Strawberries

SourceFoodies Channel

Again, the name can be deceptive. The plants might produce at different times depending on where in the world you are.

These types of strawberries are sometimes known as short day strawberries. They need shorter days so that the flower buds will start developing in time for cropping the following spring.

Best Varieties

  • Chandler: The berries will come large and early. If you let them ripen fully, the flavor really is first-rate. Chandler strawberries are very popular with commercial growers
  • Earliglow: Earliglow strawberries are great at warding off diseases. Although the berries come out a little on the small side, you’ll be rewarded with outstanding flavor and a highly productive plant
  • Hood: If you want to eat fresh strawberries, Hood makes a smart choice. They are not so great for freezing so bear this in mind. This type produces early and they are incredibly resistant to disease

2.4 Some Other Recommended Varieties

Here are some other superb varieties that you might want to think about.

Those plants marked AGM have received the RHS Award of Garden Merit. This great article explains this in more detail.

Some Other Recommended Varieties

SourceYouTube

  • Alice AGM: Midsummer cultivar. Sweet and juicy, highly disease-resistant
  • Aromel AGM: A very tasty perpetual variety
  • Cambridge Favorite AGM: Traditional mid-season favorite with juicy texture and delicious taste. Can run into snags with diseases
  • Elsanta: The most commonly grown commercial cultivar. The flavor of this bright red fruit is divine. Like Cambridge Favorite, though, you might suffer some issues with diseases
  • Florence: This late summer strawberry is not prone to disease and tastes sublime
  • Pegasus AGM: A very reliable mid-season cropper, this cultivar resists most diseases including verticillium wilt and mildew

2.5 What To Think About When Choosing Strawberries

There are a few essential factors to think about if you want to get the best strawberries for your personal requirements…

Fruit: Size

The Big Strawberry

SourceThe Big Strawberry

If you are looking for big berries then June bearing plants are probably your best bet.

Opt for day neutral or everbearing if size is not your overriding concern.

Fruit: Flavor

When it comes to flavor, you are advised to think about the variety rather than type.

Growing Space Needed

June bearing strawberries are generally the most vigorous. They kick out lots of runners which can take root as new plants if not removed.

If you have limited space, give these a swerve.

Climate

Day neutral and everbearing varieties are only likely to offer extended production in temperatures less than 90F.

Unless you have mild summers, reduce your expectations with these varieties.

Yield

The most productive strawberries are June bearing plants.

So…

Think about the above points and make sure you get the type and variety of strawberry that suits your own personal taste.

And remember…

You don’t need to choose just one!

3) Planting Strawberries

Once you have decided upon the best type and variety of strawberries, it’s time to get to work in the garden and plant them.

You don’t need much by the way of expensive garden tools but you do need to know what you’re doing so take the time to inform yourself and read on…

Before we outline what to do, a couple of quick videos that we highly recommend you check out.

For those of you who prefer to learn by watching rather than reading, finding the best videos can be an overwhelming task.

This video is a very short and sweet guide to planting.

It’s always good to have a couple of takes on a subject so this video approaches the same subject of planting strawberries and is also only a couple of minutes long.

3.1 When To Grow Strawberries

Determining the best time to plant strawberries is pretty straightforward.

If you plant them any time from late spring to the beginning of summer, they will bear fruit about two months after planting.

Don’t be concerned at the appearance of the runners. They resemble small roots with very few leaves. This is normal.

4.4 pH

pH measurements indicate acidity and alkalinity. 7 is neutral while smaller numbers indicate acidity.

Strawberries need soil of between 5.5 and 6.5 pH.

Weeding

SourceUltimate Finish

You can easily check your soil using cheap soil testing kits.

If you find that your soil is too alkaline, this can be easily acidified by adding sulfur, ammonium sulfate or ferrous sulfate six months before the planting season.

5) Top Mistakes To Avoid With Strawberries

Gardening is not an exact science but there are always common mistakes that can be quite easily avoided.

We will investigate now some of the most frequent slip-ups with strawberries that can be easily prevented.

5.1 Watch Out For Contamination

When you are considering where to plant your strawberries, make sure to avoid soil where certain other crops have previously been planted.

Enemies of strawberries include:

The above crops can actually foster soil pathogens. These can adversely affect the new crop so tread with caution.

5.2 Get It Right When Planting

It pays to get things right straight off the bat and, having sidestepped choosing the wrong location, it’s key that you take sensible steps when planting.

If you study the base of the plant, you’ll see a swollen area with the roots and leaves. This is called the crown.

crown

SourceWhole Lifestyle Nutrition

When you plant, the center of the crown should be at the level of the soil. This will mean that half of the crown is up above the soil and the other half below. The roots should be nicely spread out, the upper roots under the surface of the soil.

Once you have done this, be sure to recheck when you have watered and the soil has settled.

Plant too deep and the crown is liable to rot. Make it too shallow and the roots will dry up, wither and die.

5.3 Go Easy On The Water

It can be tempting to go over the top when watering but with strawberries this will be counterproductive, even damaging.

If you are heavy-handed with the water then the crown and root are likely to rot. This is made even worse if the crown is too deep – see the warning above – or you suffer from poor drainage in your garden.

Less is more. Aim for reasonably moist rather than wet soil.

5.4 Watch For Viruses

When it comes to strawberries, don’t cut corners and try using starts from old plants. There’s every chance that they could have become infected with viruses.

The bad news is that you can’t detect this by eye. You’ll only find out when the fruit production fails to deliver.

Buy new plants and make absolutely sure that they are certified as virus free. It would be a shame to waste all your time and effort just to save a few cents.

6) Pests and Diseases: Keep Your Strawberries Safe

Once you are up and running, it pays to remain very vigilant with your strawberries.

Sadly, these plants are prone to being threatened by a diverse range of pests and diseases.

We will summarize some of the main bugbears.

6.1 Pests

Birds

From eating bugs, leaves and seedlings through to the fruit and vegetables, birds can be a menace for strawberry plants.

Pigeons are a particular nuisance.

crown

SourceWikipedia

You can use fleece or netting to stave off intruding birds to some extent.

Regular measures such as scarecrows and other devices designed to scare birds can sometimes work for a while but they become less effective quite quickly.

Horticultural-grade fleece or mesh is by far your best option.

Nematodes

Nematodes

SourceGarden Web

Strawberry plants are at risk from several nematodes…

  • Root-Knot Nematodes
  • Foliar Nematodes
  • Stem Nematodes
  • Free-Living Root Nematodes
  • Root Cystenematodes

Caterpillars

Subterranean caterpillars can attack your strawberry plants.

Nematodes

SourceBackyard Nature

Year round pests varying in size, they attack young plants under the surface feasting on their roots.

At night, they will prey on the parts of the plant above the ground.

You should be able to easily see them and remove them. Be vigilant.

Mites

Mites

SourceWikipedia

The strawberry mite can suck the leaves of strawberry plants.

You’d need a magnifying glass to see them and they resemble tiny drops of water.

These mites cause the leaves to shrink and the growing point becomes a dull blue.

The short and stubby stems produced will not properly develop.

The two-spotted spider mite is the usual culprit when the leaves of your plant have yellow patches on the top.

6.2 Diseases

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew

SourceOntario Ministry of Agriculture

If you spot a whitish deposit a little like talcum powder on the surface of your leaves, this is probably powdery mildew.

An attack of this will cause the leaves to stop growing properly then shrivel away.

  • Solution: Make sure you keep the soil moist (but not too wet). Stick to cool places for growing. You can use either sulphur-based sprays or fish and plant oils

Grey Mold

If you have sown your strawberries densely and notice some of the seedlings collapsing, it could be grey mold that’s to blame.

Damaged plants are normally affected but it can sometimes also afflict healthy strawberries.

Look out for a grey mold on the buds or leaves, fruit or flowers.

If you don’t take action, your plants might die.

  • Solution: When you sow, do so thinly. Don’t plant where it’s too cool. Remove any plants with grey mold and dispose of them. Avoid overcrowding. Most fungicides will be ineffective

Vine Weevil

The adult weevil will eat away at the edges of leaves while the larvae feast on the roots.

An attack of weevils can kill a plant outright.

  • Solution: Use Scotts or Provado Vine weed killer. Apply this directly to the compost

Fungal Leaf Spot

If you notice brown and purple spots on the leaves, this could be a sign of fungal leaf spot.

Check for accompanying yellow rings.

Monitor for any spreading of discoloration.

  • Solution: Remove any leaves affected. Ventilate well

Leathery Rot

If your plants become wounded, they are at risk of being penetrated by this fungus.

The root neck will go a red-brown color.

Within a very short period, this can spread and kill the strawberry plant.

  • Solution: Use good, healthy planting material to help prevent leathery rot

Wilt Disease

Wilt disease is also known as verticillium albo-atrum.

This is a vascular disease.

Fungi enter through the roots or the stolons.

Discolored leaves will go a dull kind of greenish-yellow.

Stunted growth can lead to small, dry fruits.

So…

We will now move on towards the best way to harvest strawberries and also how to store them for best results.

7) Harvesting and Storing Strawberries

7.1 How To Harvest Strawberries

When all the hard work has been done and it’s time for harvest, there’s some good news…

Harvesting your crop of strawberries couldn’t be easier!

Harvesting

SourceHow To Grow Foods

  • Don’t squeeze ripe berries. Instead, use your thumbnail to pinch the stem
  • Pick any ripe berries every 2 or 3 days. If any berries have green tips, leave them as they are not yet ready. Wait a day or two and the taste will be worth holding on for
  • Make sure you clear all remnants of berries from the plants. Leaving them there will encourage rot
  • Harvesting each variety will take at least a couple of weeks. If you have too many berries, you might need to think about storing them…

7.2 How To Store Strawberries

Strawberries are super-soft and delicate so you need to take care when storing them.

Don’t wash them in advance of using them. Strawberries absorb moisture and they will spoil more quickly if washed.

Leaving the stems intact will help to prolong the shelf life of your strawberries.

They say that one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. The same is true with strawberries. Remove any perished fruit immediately or it might damage the others.

If you plan to eat your bounty on the same day, simply keep them on the counter at room temperature.

For strawberries you want to eat over the following days, try the crisper drawer of your fridge. This will regulate humidity and keep your berries from drying out. Stash them in a half-closed plastic container. Paper towels are a great way to mop up surplus moisture. With this method of storage, they’ll last up to a week.

Freezing strawberries is also possible so you can enjoy a supply year-round. Take off the stems then freeze on some baking parchment until solid. Use a Ziploc bag or airtight container for best results.

Here’s a handy video to give you some pointers on storing your strawberries.

 

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