Summer is a favorite time partly because of strawberries. By late spring everybody’s hungry for fresh fruit, which makes the eye-pleasing, sweet strawberry even more irresistible.
Still, growing your own strawberries has a drawback: you risk getting terribly spoiled. Once you’ve had homegrown berries (kind of like homegrown tomatoes), it’s hard to go back to store bought.
I did not feel my ‘Quinalt’ everbearing strawberries performed well last year, and I was ready to tear them out and replace them with a June-bearer. However, I realize now I was expecting them to act like a June-bearer which is unreasonable, since they are not the same. And this year has been quite different…maybe because they are in their third year and bearing more heavily, or maybe because I gave them some acid and compost. They like a rich soil and a pH of 5.8-6.5. We have been picking quarts of these ruby-red jewels for a week, and there are more coming on.
There are Two Types of Strawberries
June-bearing and everbearing strawberries. There are pros and cons to each.
June-bearers, put on their crop for three weeks in late spring or early summer, can produce up to a quart of fruit per plant. The nice thing about June-bearing strawberries is that you get a lot all at once, best for making lots of jam. Many home growers think June-bearing varieties make better quality berries. Fertilize in early spring, just as the plants show vigorous new growth.
June-bearing strawberries send out lots of runners, so rows quickly become a tangle of plants. To capitalize on this habit, manage the plants as a ground cover. You can mow the tattered foliage down in midsummer and mulch between plants.
Ever-bearing strawberries have a much longer season and send fewer runners. They start to produce fruit in early summer and then continue sporadically in flushes through the fall. Not a ton, mind you, but these strawberries are better than any at the store. Still, I think I might plant a box of June-bearers solely for jam.
The strawberry plants you buy at the nursery will only produce fruit for about three seasons. But, strawberries produce new plants by sending out runners. Get rid of the older plants every few years so your boxes/beds don’t get too crowded. Over-crowding leads to less fruit, disease, and lower-quality berries.
I grow my strawberries in a 4 ft. x 8 ft. raised bed, but you can grow strawberries anywhere. A sunny spot in a vegetable garden or flowerbed works. In warmer states that don’t get below 20 or so degrees, ever-bearers do especially well in pots or boxes on a sunny patio.(Check the needs of the variety first.) They key is to have a sunny place with well-drained soil that can get watered frequently. A good 3-4″mat of straw or mulch will retard weeds and hold in moisture.
Berries are so, so good for you, but they’re expensive. A tiny container of them can be pretty pricey – for the cost of several pints of berries, you could get yourself a plant that will produce year after year. Personally, I think they’re a must for any garden. You don’t have to have a green thumb. Just find a spot in your yard or on your patio. Very soon, you’ll be spoiled, too.
In closing, growing your own strawberries is the only way to avoid pesticides. Strawberries are repeatedly on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list.
The strawberry “is the wonder of all the Fruits growing naturally in those parts…In some parts where the Natives have planted, I have many times seen as many as would fill a good ship, within a few miles compasse.”
~Roger Williams, founder of Providence in 1636,
‘Key into the Language of America’
Thanks for reading!