In this article, we share a comprehensive guide to growing Strawberries at home.
Quick Guide Information
Common Name: Strawberry
Scientific Name: Fragaria ananassa
Plant Type: Low Growing Creeper
Life Span: Perennial
Time Till Harvest: 4-6 weeks from flowering (depends on variety and conditions)
Light Requirement: Full Sun
Optimum pH: 5.5 - 6.5
There's almost no garden treat superior to a homegrown strawberry. They are sweet, fragrant, and unlike a strawberry from a store. Sometimes you find them hidden from sight beneath their lush foliage for a sweet surprise, other times you patiently monitor them, slowly ripening until they are perfect.
Strawberries are fairly easy to grow given adequate conditions and their low-growing habit means there is space for them in even the smallest garden. The best thing is, once you have an established patch they are easy to spread and propagate to your heart's delight!
The classic cultivated Strawberry is actually a hybrid of two different species. Aside from this there are a handful of wild varieties and countless different cultivars. While it can be fun to import new and novel varieties to your garden, seeing what works best for experienced gardeners in your area may prove the best results.
In general, there are two main categories of strawberry varieties.
+ Summer varieties are the most commonly cultivated for their great flavor and high yield. These tend to produce fruit in early to mid summer.
+ Everbearing varieties tend to do better in cooler climates and produce most fruit in the autumn, but their production can be staggered from spring to summer if climate permits.
Strawberries are most often propagated through runners. These are creeping, viney stems that opportunistically spread from the plant, looking for places to root. Propagation is commonly done at the end of the season when patches are broken up to reduce the risk of disease associated from dense growth. During this process, dozens of rooted runners may be removed from the soil.
Strawberries are rarely grown from seed other than by hobby gardeners looking to experiment or grow novel varieties.
Planting and Maintenance
Planting strawberries is relatively straightforward.
+ Just place the already rooted plants in well amended and well-draining soil.
+ Summer varieties should be planted 20cm apart while everbearing ones can be much closer, up to 12cm apart.
+ If you are planting from a potted strawberry, break up the plant into individual runners and then plant immediately.
+ Place 10cm of straw mulch around the plants making sure the vegetation lies on top of it. Add more mulch if necessary, during the heat of the summer and before winter to help protect the soil from extreme temperatures.
+ Regularly remove and replant runners that are growing too close to each other. Tight bushy growth can lead to many diseases and decreased production for strawberry plants.
+ Strawberries are low growing, so remove weeds regularly as it may easily overshadow them.
Strawberries have countless issues with pests and disease. These can be quite problematic, especially when cultivated outside of their optimal climate.
+ Birds eating strawberries - You can't blame them, they are delicious treats. Other than continuously monitoring your patch, one of the best options is with a specialty bird net placed over your plants. Another strategy that seems to work for some birds is to paint some strawberry sized rocks and place them in your patch. Birds will think they are berries, peck at them, and be annoyed by the hard and inedible rock they have just pecked.
+ Insect pests - These can be hard to tackle. For mites and aphids, thinning your plants can often be useful. Other insect pests can be treated by applying diatomaceous earth around your plants.
+ Diseases - Many diseases affect strawberry plants. Foliar diseases can often be reduced by proper thinning. Diseases can also be prevented by digging out your patch in the early spring and spreading out the runners to prevent overcrowding during the season. Spreading your plants to new locations that have not been cultivated with strawberries may also help reduce the incidence of disease.