Growing strawberries didn’t come easy to me. I’ve been raising the June-bearing variety for about a decade now, and it’s only been the last several years that I’ve finally gotten the hang of it. The problem wasn’t with the berries but rather the grower. I didn’t give them what they needed.
To begin with, the soil wasn’t in the best condition for growing the little gems. The bed needed more organic matter to get that perfect dark crumbly soil we gardeners love–obviously the strawberries do, too. And I didn’t spend enough time watering them. Not that they like their feet wet, but my plants were not getting what they required.
So what changed? I decided that if I wanted a good crop of strawberries, I needed to learn more about them and put that newfound knowledge into practice. And I realized that I had to devote the time to nurturing the plants even though the payback–handfuls and handfuls of fresh berries ripe for the picking–would be delayed a year or two. I focused on growing beautiful green plants and temporarily forgot about the fruit.
To help you avoid making the same mistakes I did, here are my 3 essential tips for growing strawberries.
- Mulch them. I took the time to lay down newspaper and straw or dry grass clippings. This solved a few problems. It helped hold the moisture in so my plants got enough water and helped keep weeds at bay. Eventually the newspaper and straw and grass broke down, adding humus to my soil.
- Go after weeds ruthlessly. Strawberries don’t tolerate weeds well. Weeds choke out the plants and keep them from growing and producing as much as a healthy strawberry plant with room to stretch out.
- Renovate post season. Admittedly, this was hard for me because I don’t like hacking away at vibrant green leaves, but when I made my peace with taking my weed whacker and cutting back the plants an inch above the crown, my strawberry patch thrived. While I had it in mind to thin out the plants and get rid of most of the runners last year, my strawberries have spread out to cover the entire patch this year! It’s a challenge finding places I can step between plants! Ideally it’s best to have space between them, so I will have to be more aggressive in my renovating at the end of this season.
Of course you want to make sure to fertilize the plants. I did this a couple of times last year. Basically, though, it’s a matter of taking care of your plants so eventually they take care of you! I’ve only begun picking this week and have already filled a gallon bag and am halfway to filling a second, not to mention how many berries I’ve snacked on and used fresh. Will keep you posted on how many gallons I get.
How about you? What are your essential tips for growing strawberries?
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