Friday, February 25, 2011

Strawberries To Grow at Home

How to Grow the Most Delicious Strawberries in Your Garden.
by Mike McGroarty

Strawberries are easy and fun to grow at home and it's not
as difficult as some people think. One strawberry plant
can product up to a quart of tasty berries. In a nutshell
this is how to grow strawberries at home.

You need good rich soil that is well drained. If your soil
tends to be wet and sticky all the time, then build a raised
bed with good rich topsoil. You can do this just by dumping
some topsoil in your garden and building a low mound, or you
can get all fancy and build a tiered planting box. Make sure
your strawberry patch is in full sun. That's a must.

Strawberry plants wear out. They really only produce berries
for two, three or four years then berry production drops way
off and they need to be replaced. Furthermore, some
strawberry plants shouldn't be allowed to produce any berries
at all the first year you plant them. More about that in sec!

Basically there are two different kinds of strawberry plants.

1. June Bearing Strawberries. June bearing strawberry
plants don't start producing berries until June, but they
are said to be the sweetest, best tasting berries. But they
really need one full growing season before you can expect a
crop of berries from them. In fact, you should plant them in
the early spring, then when they start producing flowers you
should go through the garden and pinch off all the blooms the
first year. That will prevent the plants from producing fruit
the first season, and that is essential so they deliver you a
bountiful crop in seasons two, three and maybe four.

2. Day Neutral Strawberries. Day Neutral strawberry plants
will produce a full crop of berries the season that you plant
them. But you should still pinch all of the flowers of until
about the middle of June, then allow them to produce flowers
and berries. Some people think that Day Neutral Strawberries
aren't as tasty as their June Bearing cousins, but I think
they are plenty tasty enough.

However, what you should do, is plant some of both. That
way you'll have berries the first season, and a terrific
crop of berries the second, third and fourth seasons. 22
plants total is what I recommend for the average family, buy
11 of each and keep them separate when you plant them so you
know which ones to allow fruit production and which ones to
keep pinched back the first season.

Make your rows 36" to 42" apart and place the plants in the
row about 12" apart. Be careful to not put the plants in too
deeply. Make sure the roots are covered without about one
inch of soil then keep them watered until they get
established.

One of the most popular varieties of June Bearing is
Earliglow. It the earliest blooming of the June Bearing.
Other good varieties include Lester, Red Chief and Sure
Crop. Of the Day Neutral berries Tristar and Tribute are
good varieties.

After all of your berries have been picked you should
renovate your strawberry patch. Do this by rototilling
between the rows so you end up with a row of berry plants
that is only about 12" wide. You should also thin the
plants in the row so you have at least 4" to 6" between
the plants. Next trim the tops of the plants so they are
no more than a couple of inches high.

Once all of that is done you should keep the berry patch
watered as needed so the plants can rejuvenate before winter.

Depending on where you live this is an option. Come winter
wait until after two hard freezes and cover your berry plants
with straw for winter protection.

When your strawberry plants start to produce blooms in the
spring you can protect those blooms from late frosts or
freezes by covering the plants or simply going out really
early in the morning with the garden hose and rinsing the
frost from your berry plants. I know this sounds crazy,
but it works and is used widely by large strawberry growers.
But you have to rinse the frost off before the sun hits the
plants. The sun hitting a frost covered strawberry plant is
what does the damage.

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