Strawberries are like nature’s candy–a fruity, sweet treat that you can enjoy without any guilt. Packed with vitamin C, dietary fiber and an array of other nutrients, strawberries are great for snacking, baking, breakfast, dessert and even for adding to savory dishes. Best of all, strawberries can easily be grown at home. Just follow these tips for success:
- Choose the Right Type of Plant. There are three main types of strawberry plants:
– Day-Neutral. These strawberry plants can grow well regardless of how much sunlight they receive. They produce a moderate amount of fruit and can produce fruit in any season so long as temperatures are between 35 and 85°F.
– Everbearer. These strawberry plants produce fruit in the autumn and in the spring with buds developing during the fall and autumn, respectively.
– Junebearer. Sensitive to daylight length, these strawberry plants bud in the autumn and give fruit during the spring. The plants produce the most strawberries, so they are typically recommended for home growing.
- Select the Right Spot for Planting. If you want to plant your strawberries in the garden, a raised bed will give you the best results. Just be sure not to plant strawberries in any area where eggplants, peppers or tomatoes have been grown within the past 3 years. You can also grow strawberries in planters that measure 6 to 8 inches in depth by 5 to 7 feet in width by 18 inches to 4 feet in length.
- Check for Mold. Strawberry plants often develop a form of grey mold called botrytis. If it is allowed to linger, it can quickly spread and ruin your entire crop of strawberries. Inspect your growing strawberry plants regularly for signs of the grey fungus. If you spot it, immediately remove the affected parts of the plants.
- Water Frequently. Strawberry plants have very shallow roots that can dry out quickly, so be sure to water often, particularly during the hot summer months and during periods of drought. At the same time, you never want to over water strawberries, as wet conditions can make mold more likely. Strive to keep the soil damp but not soggy or muddy at all times.
- Pick the Right Way. When you’re ready to harvest your berries, do not pull the strawberry off of the plant. Instead, use gardening shears to snip off the berry and its stem in one piece. Berries will be ready to pick within 4 to 6 weeks of when the flowers on the plants bloom, and you can expect plants to produce fruit for up to 3 weeks.
- Trim Early Runners. Strawberry plants will grow runners as they develop. If runners form early in the season, remove them from the plant, so that nutrients produced through photosynthesis can be used for developing fruit, not for supporting the growth of the shoots.
By following these tips, you can get on your way to growing strawberry plants at home and having fresh, juicy berries that you can savor whenever you desire.