Growing Strawberries

Storage of Plants. Strawberry plants should be planted and watered immediately. If you are not able to do so, keep the roots damp (wrap them in plastic) and store in refrigeration for a few days. For longer storage, keep the plants dormant at 28-30 degrees.

Soil Requirements. Soil pH should be between 6.0 and 6.5. Soil should be well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. If you have heavy clay or overly sandy soil you can amend this with compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Small-scale gardeners can create raised beds or use planters if soil is heavy or drains poorly.

Planting. Space the plants 12 to 18 inches apart in the row. The distance in the row does not matter (you can use a traditional 36-48" tractor row, or square-foot gardening if your soil is properly compensated). When planting, do not bury the crown of the plant. The center ball of the crown should be even with the ground, and the roots buried loosely spread beneath it.

Care. Keep the patch weeded and/or mulched. You should pinch off the first set of blooms, to prevent berries. This will allow the plant to become bigger and more established prior to fruiting.

Water Requirement. Soil should be kept consistently moist throughout the growing season. This is key to developing plump, fully-formed berries. You can mulch the soil with straw to reduce water evaporation, or use a plasticulture system.

Fertilizer. A water-soluble fertilizer is all that should be applied for the first three weeks after planting to prevent burning newly emerging roots. After this time, fertilize as you would any garden crop.

Frost. Strawberry plants can be very sensitiive to frost as they near bloom. If frost is anticipated during the blooming stage, plants and blossoms should be covered to prevent damage. During the winter you should protect the plants and cover/insulate the bed to prevent any injury to the plants.

Storage of Fruit. You can refrigerate unwashed berries for up to 7 days.

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