|Strawberries are an easy to grow
fruit crop that will reward the home gardener with ample harvests
for many years. With favorable conditions, each strawberry plant
should produce one quart of strawberries.
Choosing Strawberry Plants
There are basically 3 types of strawberry plants to choose from:
June bearing, Everbearing and Day Neutral.
- June Bearing strawberries produce a single, large
crop per year during a 2 - 3 week period in the spring. June bearers
are the traditionally grown plants, producing a single flush of flowers
and many runners. They are classified into early, mid-season and late
varieties. The largest fruits are generally from June bearing varieties.
- Everbearing strawberries produce two to three harvests
of fruit intermittently during the spring, summer and fall. Everbearing
plants do not send out many runners.
- Day Neutral strawberries will produce fruit throughout
the growing season. These strawberries also produce few runners. Everbearing
and day neutral strawberries are great when space is limited, but
the fruits are usually somewhat smaller than June bearers.
Where and When to Plant Strawberries
Basic considerations when planting strawberries include:
- Full sun
- Well drained, sandy loam is ideal
- Don't plant where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplant have been
grown recently (Verticillium Rot)
- Plant in the spring or in late fall
- Select plants with large crowns with healthy, light-colored roots
1 - 2 inches of water per week is needed for juicy fruit. Water is especially
important while the fruit is forming, from early bloom to the end of harvest.
Strawberry Water Needs
Start with a rich, organic soil. Apply a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10)
at planting at the rate of one pound per 100 sq. ft. Fertilize again after
renovation of June bearers or second harvest of day neutrals and everbearing
types. Do not over fertilizer or you will have excessive leaf growth and
poor flowering. Do not fertilizer strawberries late in the season in colder
climate to prevent new growth that will be damaged by frost.
Harvesting Your Strawberries
Strawberries are their sweetest when fully ripened on the plants. For
most varieties this means leaving the berries on the plant for a day or
two after they are fully colored. The only way to know for sure is a taste
Strawberries bruise easily. Be gentle when pulling them from the plants.
Snap the stem directly above the berry rather than pulling on the berry
itself. Keep harvested berries in a cool, shady location.
Verticillium Wilt, Botrytis (Fruit Rot) and Red Stele (Root Rot):
Choose resistant varieties and rotate crops.
- Tarnished Plant Bug: Feeding by the tarnished plant bug will result
in disfigured, nubby berries
- Birds: Birds will inevitably get some of your berries. Plant more
than you'll need and cover the area with close bird netting.
For more information on strawberries, the University of Illinois Extension
has great information along with recipes here, http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/strawberries/.