The Q&A Archives: Strawberries In Vermont

Question: I live in northern Vermont and I would like to try my hand at strawberries. I built a cold frame to start seeds indoors. Would this be a good way to grow strawberries since the growing season is so short up here? Please help! (I have two kids who LOVE strawberries!) Any info on getting started would help, keeping in mind the climate...

Answer: For your region, early spring is the time to plant strawberries. The are usually sold as dormant plants via mail order, and Burpee offers several varieties. When you start from transplants, you should wait until the second season to harvest (remove all blossoms the first season. Growing the plants from seed will add another season, at least, to the delay. In other words, you probably wouldn't begin harvesting until the third growing season. That's why most people start with dormant plants (roots).

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 soil.

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. Protect the berries from birds with netting. Best of luck with your patch!

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