Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to grow strawberries

This picture is from this past April.  It's time to plant your own patch.
   Now is the time to set out strawberry plants for fruit next May. We maintain a part of our strawberry patch each year after the harvest and through the summer until now, when we dig up the multiple runners and plant them out in a newly prepared section of garden. The plants establish themselves in the fall, then begin to really put on new leaves on warm days in the winter and in the early spring. By about the end of March they should begin flowering, and about the end of April/early May the harvest should begin and last for about three or four weeks.  These are the same plants we've sold strawberries from since we first started selling in 2004. We normally plant our strawberries in double rows. We space the two individual rows about 10-12 inches apart with about 24-32 inches between double rows. We space the plants about 10 inches apart in the row.  Sometimes we'll mound up the double rows a little, especially if we have any concerns about poor drainage: strawberry roots don't like to stay wet. We mulch lightly with straw (or poor hay) for protection from the hardest winter cold, then mulch heavily in and around the plants in the early spring to suppress weeds and keep the berries from getting mud and dirt on them. Bare root plants will require very regular watering until they get established. It is time to begin getting plants established, though, so if you can't keep them well watered in the garden, you might want to plant them in small pots or flats as an intermediate step. It's also important not to plant the plants too deep.  Find the growing point in the middle of the plant and make sure not to cover it with dirt. 
   If you've realized how hard good organic fruit is to come by, strawberries may be an excellent place to start growing your own.

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