The Q&A Archives: Sweeter Strawberries

Question: This spring I planted everbearer strawberries which I took from the runners of my parents' plants. They took well and quickly and have begun to bear fruit. Last night we picked our first berry and it was very flavorful however it was quite tart. We were hoping for sweeter berries. Is the sweetness a function of the soil and if so how should I treat my soil to produce sweeter berries?

Answer: Strawberries will produce the best berries when grown in very rich, evenly moist but well drained (meaning not soggy) soil with a pH between 5 and 6. When preparing the bed it is also a good idea to dig in ample quantitites of organic matter. When you use runners to start a new bed, generally the earliest runners will make the best plants.

Generally first year berries are not as good as the berries produced in the second and third years. (In fact, some gardeners do not allow the plants to set berries for the first season (for June bearers) or for the first summer (for everbearers) so that the plants can direct their energy towards becoming established. It is possible that your plants are still recovering from the stress of transplanting and are not yet producing their best. It is also possible that irregular moisture or inadequate nutrients have contributed to less than optimum quality. In my experience, the everbearers in particular are very sensitive to moisture levels.

Finally, it is also true that some berries look ready a day or two before they really are fully ripe. Maybe you were too impatient?

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