One of the easiest fruits to grow and a fantastic choice for beginners is strawberries. Compared to what you'd buy in a grocery store, the taste is significantly more flavorful, and that's because the sugar in berries quickly turns into starch after being picked. The greatest thing about strawberries is that, as long as you plant them where they will receive full sun, they can be easily grown in practically all climates and soils throughout the United States and Canada. June-bearing variations, everbearing varieties, and day-neutral varieties are the three different types of strawberry plants.
Planting and Growing Information:
As soon as the ground can be worked in the spring, make plans to plant. To maintain good berry quality each season, be sure to grow new strawberry plants each year. The runners (daughter plants) that strawberry plants produce will root and grow into new plants. Buy disease-resistant plants only from a reputable nursery. Choose your planting location carefully since strawberry plants need 6-10 hours of direct sunlight each day. While strawberries may grow in a variety of soil types, they prefer loamy, well-draining soil. Work in compost or aged manure ideally a few months before planting. To further improve drainage, rake clay soil into raised mounds and generally mix in 4 inches or more of compost. If your soil is sandy, all you need to do is cultivate it lightly to get rid of weeds and mix in a 1-inch layer of rich compost or rotted manure. The ideal pH range for the soil is between 5.5 and 7. Before planting, amend your soil if necessary. It is recommended to grow strawberries in half-barrels or other large containers filled with compost-enriched potting soil if the soils in your area are naturally alkaline. The planting area must be well-drained. Raised beds are a good option for strawberry plants.
Make sure there is enough room for sprawling. To leave room for runners, space the plants 18 inches (1-½ feet) apart, and allow 4 feet between rows. Strawberries are considered sprawling plants. Runners are sent out by seedlings, which in turn will send forth their own runners. To accommodate the complete root system without bending it, dig planting holes that are both deep and wide enough. But be careful not to plant too deeply! Although the crown should be near the soil's surface, the roots should be covered. It is very important not to bury the plant's crown (the central growing bud) of the plant, as doing so could cause it to rot. Fruit, flowers, and leaves need to be exposed to fresh air and sunshine. Water plants well when you first plant them to help their roots settle into the soil.
Maintain mulch in strawberry beds to reduce water requirements and weed invasion. Any kind of mulch will keep the soil moist and the plants clean, including pine straw, shredded leaves, and black plastic. Be diligent when weeding. Especially the first few months after planting, weed by hand. Because of their shallow roots, strawberries are very dependent on moisture. Water adequately approximately 1 inch per square foot per week. When the runners and flowers are forming and again in the late summer when the plants are fully grown and preparing for winter dormancy, strawberry plants require a lot of water. Pick off blossoms the first year to prevent strawberry plants from fruiting. If forbidden from producing fruit, they will instead use their food reserves to build healthy roots, which is beneficial. The second year will give substantially higher yields. Remove runner plants as necessary. Higher yields are produced by the first and second generations. Try to maintain a 10-inch separation between daughter plants.
Strawberry plants are perennial, which means that they live for a long time. They can withstand somewhat frigid weather since they are naturally cold-hardy. That said, little attention is required if the winters in your area are mild. Strawberries will be at their dormant stage in areas where it frequently descends into the low 20s. Offering some winter protection is best. Mow or trim the foliage to 1 inch when the growing season is over. When the air reaches 20°F or after the first few frosts, this can be done. Mulch plants with straw, pine needles, or other organic material to a depth of about 4 inches. More insulating mulch needs to be applied in regions that are considerably colder. The proper amount of soil moisture should be maintained by natural precipitation. Early in the spring, once the risk of frost has gone, remove mulch.
For strong growth, fertilize with all-purpose granules. Berries in warm climates ripen about 30 days after blossoms are fertilized.
Fruit can usually be harvested 4-6 weeks after it has bloomed. Harvest berries only when they are fully red (ripe), and pick them every three days. Don't pull the berry; instead, cut it off at the stem to avoid damaging the plant. The harvest period for June-bearing strawberries can last up to 3 weeks. Depending on the variety, you should have an abundance of berries.