Who doesn’t love the sweet taste of strawberries in the summer? Picked fresh, juice running down your hand as you bite in. Brings back some wonderful childhood memories for me of sitting in my grandmother’s strawberry patch and eating them when I should be filling my bucket for her.
Strawberries are fairly easy to grow and can be planted in containers, raised beds or just about any where that there is full sun. Having your own to pick and enjoy taste better than any other strawberry you can imagine and best of all the plants will last 3-4 seasons with care. I personally recommend Ozark Beauties because they are an everbearer. Everbearers, once established, will provide you with several harvests from late spring to late fall in warm areas. They need lots of sun light, 6-8 hours per day, plenty of water and mulch, straw preferably. You can purchase plants through your local nursery or online from a number of sources.
Ordering from an online source you will receive bare roots in the mail. Bare roots are exactly what they sound like, just roots, sometimes there is some foliage attached. This is the safest way to ship many plants. There is very little dirt, though the roots will be moist when you receive them. It is recommended that you store them some where dark if your chosen spot for them is not ready.
How to Plant Bare Root Strawberry Plants
- Choose your spot well, making sure that there is plenty of sunlight available throughout the day. Strawberries like many other garden favorites need 6-8 hours of direct sun per day.
- Make sure that the container or garden bed has well drained soil. Strawberries love water but they do not do well in standing water.
- Give the roots a good drink before planting them in the soil. I usually place them in a bucket of compost or manure tea, whichever is on hand at the moment, for a half an hour before I plant them. I find this helps to avoid transplant shock.
- Prepare the garden bed or container by making a hole that is at least three inches deep and 2 inches wide in the soil.
- Place your plant in the whole, spread the roots out a bit so that they make contact with the soil.
- Cover with soil, making sure that the crown is well covered with the stems and any green leaves above the soil line. Tamp the soil down firmly around the plant.
- Water the soil around the plants well.
- Spread mulch, either straw or leaf mulch, around the base of the plants to protect the roots especially in early spring when temperatures are still likely to drop at night.
How to Care For Your Strawberries
- Make sure to keep the soil moist. Mulching helps hold in water, so move some away from the plants and check the soil with your finger.
- Keep your strawberries mulched all year long, this protects the roots from the cold and helps keep moisture in during the heat.
- Remove brown, yellow or mottled leaves, flowers or fruits that do not look healthy.
- Remember to add compost or use a compost or manure tea to fertilize your strawberry plants. Fertilize in the spring, after each harvest and in the winter.
- To encourage runners, in the fall, cut down the stems to one inch above the soil.
- Weed on a regular basis. This is a good thing to do in all garden beds and containers. As soon as weeds start appearing, remove them it makes up keep easier.
- Harvest your berries when they have turned a deep, bright red color. The fruit should still be slightly firm, soft fruit tends to be over ripe. Over ripe fruit can be used in jelly, jam, preserves, desserts.