Tag: strawberries

Tips on How to Grow Strawberries

In Medieval religious paintings the strawberry was symbolic of “noble thought and majesty,” but I’m more likely to think of gluttony than piety when I see this fruit. I could eat homegrown strawberries by the bushel basket.

To accommodate my appetite and all the sweet fruits I want to share, we’ve planted about 170 strawberries at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home.

I selected both June bearing and ever-bearing varieties in hopes of having a steady supply throughout the summer. June bearing plants produce fruit once in early summer for about 3 weeks. Ever-bearing strawberries produce two significant crops, once in early summer and then again in fall. In cool climates they will continue to fruit sporadically over the course of the growing season.

Strawberry Varieties Planted at Moss Mountain

‘Allstar’ – June bearing * exceptionally disease resistant * classic strawberry shape * frost resistant * firm consistency * vigorous grower * extra juicy and sweet * very hardy

‘Ozark Beauty’ – ever-bearing * heavy early summer and fall crops with sporadic fruits throughout summer * especially productive in cool climates * great for containers * large berries * sweet * heaviest bearer of the ever-bearing varieties

‘Cardinal’ – June Bearing * recommended for warm climate gardens * disease resistant * extra-large, very sweet berries

Strawberry Planting Tips:

 

Timing – Strawberries can be planted in spring as soon as the soil is workable or in the fall. If a spring frost is predicted protect the flowers with a layer of wheat straw, pine needles or a frost blanket.

Planting Depth – Plant strawberries high with the base of the bud union at soil level and the soil just covering the roots.

Sunlight – Provide at least 6 hours of sunshine.

Soil – The soil should be well-drained with plenty of organic humus with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

Verticillium Wilt – Unless the variety is noted as disease resistant, don’t plant strawberries where tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or potatoes have been grown in the past 3 years. These plants along with others in the Solanaceae family often carry the disease.

Fertilizer – Apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer when establishing new beds at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet. Work this into the soil before planting. Feed again in late summer or early fall being careful to keep the fertilizer off of the foliage. Do not over fertilize as this leads to excessive leaf production, reduced fruiting, and vulnerability to disease.

Water – Strawberries need about 1 inch of water per week during the growing season.

Mulch – Apply a layer of mulch between the strawberry plants to keep the soil cool and consistently moist, and keep the berries off the ground.

Winter Care – Strawberries need a layer of mulch in winter to protect them from freezing temperatures.

Life Span – A strawberry plant is good for about 3 years, after which it should be dug up. Wait another 4 years to plants strawberries in that location again.

Container Grown – You can grow strawberries even if you don’t have much space. Plant them in a rectangular container and place the container in full sun.

To learn more about growing strawberries, check out the video below!

How to Cover Strawberry Plants for Winter

I planted a strawberry patch this fall and have heard that I should cover the plants with mulch for the winter. Is this true? If so, what should I use for mulch?

Yes, I would recommend mulching your strawberry bed for several reasons. The most important being that a good layer of mulch will prevent the plants from heaving out of the ground in winter as temperatures fluctuate, causing the soil to alternately freeze and thaw. Heaving is more likely to occur in a heavy soil than in a sandy one, but no matter what type of soil you have, there are additional benefits of mulching such as conserving moisture and reducing weeds the following spring.

Wait to mulch your beds until after the first hard freeze, when the soil is frozen to about 1/2 an inch below the surface. Do not apply mulch during warm weather because this may cause the plants to begin growing and when the temperatures turn cold again they will be damaged.

The process I follow is to first cover the plants with a loose arrangement of small branches. This will prevent the mulch from smothering the plants. Then scatter your mulch material on top. I prefer to use wheat straw because it is less likely to pack down, but pine needles or even shredded newspaper will work as well. If you use newspaper, discard the slick pullouts and magazines because their inks contain heavy metals. Avoid using tree leaves, bark mulch or saw dust because they mat when wet.

Once the mulch material is applied, add another layer of twigs and branches to keep it in place and then lightly hose down the area with water.

Remove the mulch in spring after the last frost date in your area. Rather than discard the mulch, simply transfer it to the area between your plants to help retain moisture, prevent weeds and to keep the berries off the ground.

Strawberry Jar How-To

I was just given a large terra cotta strawberry jar for my garden. What can I grow in it (besides strawberries) that is visually interesting yet low maintenance?

Strawberry jars are excellent containers for showcasing just about any low growing plant.

Good foliage plants are mat forming sedums such as ‘Tricolor’, sempervivums (hens and chicks) and succulents or herbs such as creeping thyme and oregano. A nice silver gray plant that would suit a strawberry jar is helichrysum ‘Dwarf Silver’.

The winning characteristic about all these plants is that they are drought tolerant and low maintenance.

Whatever you choose for your strawberry jar, watering can be a bit tricky. All of the water seems to run out of the upper holes and it never reaches the plants at the bottom. But I’ve discovered a solution to this problem.

It starts with a piece of PVC pipe. Get one that is two inches in diameter and cut a few inches shorter than the interior height of the container. Next, just drill a series of holes along the side of the pipe using a 1/4 inch bit.

Place a few pieces of a broken terra cotta pot over the drainage hole and set the pipe on them. Add about 3 inches of gravel around the pipe and about 4 to 5 inches in the pipe itself. This will help stabilize it as you add the potting soil. Add soil until you have covered the bottom row of the pouches.

Now you are ready to begin adding your plants and the remainder of the soil.

When you are ready to water just pour the water into the pipe and it will distribute the water evenly through the soil.