Growing Strawberries: A delicious ground cover
My advice is to plant more than one type of strawberry plant variety for a
prolific and staggered harvest.
Strawberry Fields forever…Now I know what the Beatles were talking about…Although, I dutifully planted strawberries last year, I didn’t get the abundant harvest that I was hoping for. So this year, I have a new plan and I think I will be closer to those strawberry fields of the song…
Strawberries can grow in various climates and in most types of soil and most people are surprised to learn that when they bloom, they are covered in pink and white flowers. What you have to know is the type of strawberries you are growing. Last year, I planted Everbearing strawberries that grow throughout the year, but they are smaller in size and they don’t bear as many strawberries as my love for strawberries requires.
This year my daughter and I decided to plant 100 strawberry plants as a ground cover. (Yes, 100!)) Strawberry plants happen to be a great ground cover because they tend to stay very low and bushy, and the runners that each plant produces, quickly fill in, covering the ground completely and choking out any potential weeds.
We have also decided to plant June Bearing strawberries that are larger. The only unfortunate thing about June Bearing strawberries is that they ONLY bear fruit in June. This year, my strategy is to stagger my plantings with several different varieties so there is a constant supply of strawberries in my garden. Let Ale explain…check her out!
The two different types of strawberries:
- Everbearing and day neutral strawberries will produce multiple harvests throughout the growing season (tend to be smaller in size)
- June bearing strawberries which only bear fruit for a 2-3 week period every June. The strawberries from June bearing varieties are the largest.
Tips for planting strawberries
- Each Strawberry plant can produce up to 1 quart of strawberries every year for up to 5 years
- Plant strawberries in spring or late fall in nutrient rich soil
- Plant your strawberries 18” apart for June Bearers and 12” apart for Ever bearer/Day Neutral
- Plant strawberries on a gradual slope this improves the drainage conditions and can help prevent frost injury (a south facing slope allows strawberries to ripen a few days earlier than plants on a north facing slope) Amend with organic compost if necessary
- To plant strawberries, dig a hole large enough to be able to spread the roots out. (see Ale in action)
- Fill in with soil and fill around the plant so that the soil is halfway up the crown
- Water thoroughly and mulch with straw
- For strawberries bursting with juice, water during the fruit production phase about 2” per week
- Let strawberries ripen on the plant before picking and gently pull off the fruit so that you don’t bruise the berry
- Prevent birds from eating your berries by covering area with bird netting (Also, cover with a 1” layer of straw in the fall)
- Plant at least 100 strawberry plants for a family of four to enjoy the fruit when ripe, and any extra will allow you to make jellies and jams – enough for everyone
- Enjoy the fruits of your labor!