Growing Strawberries for Beginners

Over the years I have tried to grow strawberries with little success. Five years ago, with 25 strawberry plants, a friend taught me some proper growing techniques and100 plants later, I am still having success! Here is what I have learned:

Varieties

Know what type of producer you want. There are three types: June bearing, everbearing, and day-neutral. June bearing strawberries produce during the month of June only the year after they are planted. Everbearing strawberries produce three times a year; once in spring, summer, and fall beginning the year they are planted. Day-neutral plants produce fruit throughout most of the growing season.

You should pick a variety that will fit your eating, freezing, canning, and flavor preferences. You will find there is a greater selection of June-bearing varieties then everbearing or day-neutral.

How many plants will you need? The average family will only need around 25 plants. However, that is what I started with as a family of 4 and it was not nearly enough for us!

Planting Preparation

Before you get your plants, prepare an area for planting. Strawberries like full sun, fertile soil with organic matter, and well-drained soil with a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. Raised beds are good for growing strawberries since the plants do not like having excessive moisture at their roots.

Planting

Early spring (April) is the best time to plant strawberries if the soil is not too wet. When planting, make sure to cover the roots and only half of the crown with soil. The crown is the short stem between the roots and leaves.

Crown of strawberry plant

Crown of strawberry plant

Roots need to be set into the ground vertically. Do not bend the roots horizontally. Bare root plants typically come with lengthy roots. It is okay to even the roots out to fit them into the ground vertically without having to dig a deep hole. I do this by cutting the roots to be even.

Roots of plant

Roots of the strawberry plant

strawberry

Plant Spacing Runners and Removing Blossoms

The long stem along the ground is a runner.

Rows need to be 36-40 inches apart for June bearing plants with 12-24 inches between each plant within the row. Day neutral rows need to be 30-36inches apart and 8-12 inches between each plant within the row.

Mulch the plants with 3-4 inches of straw or wood chips to conserve moisture. Remove runners and flowers throughout the first season. Your goal during year one is to focus on the “mother plant” (original plant).

Dr. Gary Gao with The Ohio State University Extension has a great fact sheet to help you with selection, disease problems and planting advise. Here is the link to the factsheet on Ohioline: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1424

Be looking for a strawberry after harvest renovation article coming in June!

 

Sabrina Schirtzinger, ANR Educator Knox County, can be reached at 740-397-0401 or Schirtzinger.55@osu.edu. This column is provided by the Ohio Department of Agriculture Victory Garden Program

 

 

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