Answer: Early spring is the best - it gives the plants a nice long summer to get established. However, it's not too late to plant them now. Here are some general guidelines for planting:
Strawberries prefer a light, slightly acid soil that's rich in humus. Mix in organic matter such as compost, composted manure or decomposed leaves to increase the water-holding capacity of the soil and improve soil structure. Avoid soil that contains nematodes and avoid areas where tomatoes or potatoes have been recently grown.
There are lots of different ways you can lay out the beds. I just plant mine on 10" centers, mulch them will straw or leaves, remove most of the "runners" (baby plants that grow on long stems) and allow a few of the runner plants to root in the bed. When an older plant is looking worn out, I replace it with a newly rooted young plant.
There are a couple of kinds of strawberries - day neutral (sometimes called everbearing) and June-bearers. June bearing plants have one main crop in early summer. Day-neutral types have two larger crops in early and late summer, but continue to bear fruit throughout the summer. Some experts suggest that you pluck off all the blossoms that set the first year to allow the plants to put energy into getting established. It's up to you - I personally like to leave just a few to ripen into berries - incentive, you know!
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