The Q&A Archives: How to Grow Strawberries

Question: What is the best way to grow strawberries since it is already July? Should I start them from a seed, a plant or is it too late for this year?

Answer: For our region, early spring is the time to plant strawberries. The are usually sold via mail order, and Burpee offers several varieties. Strawberries grow best in full sunshine, in sandy loam with good drainage. To prepare the bed, spread 3"-4" of compost over the surface of the soil and till it in well. If your soil contains a lot of clay, you may need to add some greensand to improve drainage. Straw is great mulch for the bed. It keeps weeds from competing with the plants, helps hold in moisture, and keeps soil from splashing up onto the fruit. As the strawberry plants develop runners you can brush away the straw to allow some of the runners to root directly in the

Space the plants 12" apart in the row, in rows 2' apart, and as they grow, peg daughter plants in the space between, and they'll take root. Keep plants evenly moist, but don't soak them, or the roots will rot. Some gardeners pluck off the blossoms the first year so the plants will put all their energy into forming healthy roots and crowns, and start harvesting the second year. Bees are very important to the crop -- without pollination, there is no fruit. If bees are scarce in your vicinity, you may be able to draw them to the are with commercial Bee Scent (available from Gardens Alive: 800-537-8650; Protect the berries from birds with netting. Best of luck with your patch!

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