Strawberries will grow in the majority of zones (3-10) and can delight growers with a crop of berries in as little as three months after being planted. Junebearing strawberries produce a single crop in late spring and depending on your zone, cultivars can be planted in succession to spread out your harvest. Everbearing strawberries bear two crops each season, one in the spring and a second, smaller crop in the fall with some day-neutral cultivars producing continuously all season. Select plants that have been cultivated to resist the specific problems common to strawberries grown in your area.
Strawberries prefer full sun, good air circulation and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 (acidic). Avoid low sites prone to frost or standing water or areas where strawberries, raspberries, potatoes or tomatoes have been grown before.
Plant strawberries in the early spring in holes deep enough to cover the roots without burying the crown. Roots should be trimmed to 4 inches and soaked for 15 to 20 minutes before being set into the soil. Pack soil around the roots, and add some water mixed with diluted fertilizer to the plants while refilling the holes.
It's important to get strawberry plants off to a good start the first year. In the first season, keep beds free from weeds and remove blossoms to prevent fruit development and encourage healthy, robust daughter plants. Four to six weeks after planting, offsets should be rooted alongside the mother plants. During the late spring and summer, apply an organic fertilizer and repeat the application again 4 to 5 weeks later. To prepare plants for winter, mulch them heavily with straw or pines needles after frost arrives in the fall.
During season two, the plants should receive 1 inch of water per week during fruit development and through until fall. Watch plants for signs of pests or disease and be prepared to protect plants from birds and animals. Strawberries begin to peter out after 1 or 2 seasons of production. Stagger plantings or start over with new plants every 2 to 3 years to maintain productive crops.
Check for ripe berries every two to three days-green-tipped berries are not fully ripe. Remove any remnants from plants to discourage rot. Plan on consuming strawberries within a few days to a week after harvesting.
Skunks love the ripe portions of strawberries, so do birds like cedar waxwings and robins.
I spray Desis on my strawberries just before they bloom to kill the little "no see ums"...little flying bugs that bite the tips of the growing berry causing the end to not grow and develop.
I also grow Maxim strawberries. they are able to stay fresh in my fridge for a whole week and still be great to eat.
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