Strawberries are sweet, tart and match with just about any dessert you can think of. A fruit for lovers, the sensual strawberry is one of the easiest berries to grow.
Strawberries are an annual or perennial plant, depending where you live. In areas that experience hot summers, strawberries generally only live for one season, but cooler climates can enjoy the same plant for a few years.
There are two main varieties of strawberries: June-bearing and ever-bearing. June-bearing do better in the heat, but make the choice based on how many strawberries you plan to eat! Transplant plants in late fall or in early spring, as soon as the soil is workable. Bury strawberry plants up to their crowns 12 inches apart in rich soil. Water immediately after planting and every day for the first week.
Strawberries grow well in containers or raised garden beds. They are a picky plant and like good drainage and a low pH level (5.8 to 6.2) in their soil. Mix sand and sulfur in the soil to meet both needs. Strawberries need about 2 inches of water each week, full sun and afternoon shade. In nature, wild strawberries grow near pine trees, so using pine needles as a mulch won’t hurt.
Strawberries are also particular about their neighbors in the garden. Do not plant strawberries with members of the cabbage family, including cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Also avoid planting strawberries in a location where nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant or potato) were grown in the past few years.
If you can keep your strawberry plants happy and comfortable from early spring through summer, they will reward you with an abundance of fruit. Don’t forget to freeze some of the harvest for use in smoothies and pies during winter!