One of the most exciting fruits in your garden has to be strawberries; they fruit quite early and give you the first true taste of summer! Here, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you grow your own strawberries at home.
Strawberries can grow in almost any soil type, but they typically prefer a well-drained loam soil with a pH above 6.0. If you are unsure of your soil type or pH, don’t worry; strawberries are resilient.
It’s important to make sure that the ground you plant in has proper drainage and a good rotation. Don’t plant strawberries into ground you had strawberries in within the last 5-8 years, as it may still have soil diseases that will infect your plants and cause poor performance.
Every soil type tends to give a distinctive flavour to strawberries, just like it will with wine grapes. This means you might find your garden produces a berry that tastes different than it does from your neighbour's garden.
How To Plant Your Strawberries
You can plant your strawberries anytime between late April and the end of May, but the ideal time is the beginning of May. To have strawberries for as long as possible, select several varieties of early and late season producers.
Strawberries fruit for around two weeks, so having multiple varieties will extend your season and allow you to enjoy them longer.
Before planting, soak the strawberry plants in water for about five minutes. Plants are typically grown in rows spaced 38” - 48” apart and planted with 12″ spacing.
When you're planting your strawberry roots, stick your trowel in deep in the soil, and pull it back to create a gap. Put the root into the gap. You should bury all the roots, but be sure not to cover the crown (heart) of your plant. If you can't plant your strawberries as soon as you get home, store your plants in the refrigerator in the mean time.
General Care & Overwintering
Strawberries are thirsty plants and like any garden crop, should be watered directly after planting. Avoid applying any fertilizer in the first three weeks after planting so that you don't burn emerging roots. After this initial time period, we advise applying a water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20, on a weekly basis.
During the first year after you plant your strawberries, it’s a good idea to remove fruit blossoms as they appear, to help encourage plant and runner growth. Blossoms will stunt the development of your plant and reduce the size and quantity of fruit in future years. When runners form on your plant, it’s a good idea to push them into the row so they can fill in the space between your ‘mother’ plants and create a thicker row of plants.
In October, a mulch of straw or leaves can be placed on the rows of plants to prevent winter injury to the strawberry crowns. Remove straw from on top of the plants in spring prior to dormancy break around April 1st.