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Planting strawberries in the home garden

Strawberries are a delicious summertime treat, especially when you pick them from your garden. When given the proper care they are easy to grow and surprisingly productive.

There are three types of strawberries available to the home gardener; June-bearing, ever-bearing, and day neutral. June-bearing strawberries produce one large crop in mid-June to early July. Ever-bearing types produce two crops, one in early summer and one in early fall. Day neutral types produce fruit throughout most of the growing season. Of these three, June-bearing strawberries generally produce the largest yield.

Strawberries need full sun to produce high quality fruit. Ideally plants will receive 10 or more hours of sunlight each day. Select a site that drains well and avoid sites located near trees. Trees will compete for water and nutrients as well as cast shade. Before planting, have your soil tested to determine if any nitrogen, phosphorous, or potassium need to be added. If they are needed, spread them over the soil surface and till them in to a depth of six inches.

Strawberries are usually planted in rows. There are several methods of row planting for strawberry, with the most common being the matted row system. In this system, strawberry plants are spaced 18 to 24 inches apart within the row and rows are spaced three to four feet apart. Strawberries need about one inch of rainfall each week. Monitor rainfall with a rain gauge and supplement with irrigation when needed. Flowers should be picked off of plants for the first few weeks. This allows the plant to focus on root and leaf production. Once plants are established flowers can be left on the plant to produce fruit.

Throughout the summer, strawberry plants will produce runners. Place runners where you want them to fill in by gently pressing the end of the runner into the soil. If plants are getting crowded, go ahead and remove some of the runners. After harvest, fertilize plants using compost or a commercial fertilizer. This is also a good time to thin out plants. Remove older, woody plants first and leave younger plants for next year. Remaining plants should be six to eight inches apart.

When strawberry plants enter dormancy in the fall and air temperatures remain below 40 OF, a four to six inch layer of straw mulch should be applied over the plants. This mulch will help protect plants from extreme cold so they will emerge in the spring. As the temperature warms in the spring, remove straw and use as mulch between plants to help conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

Reward yourself this summer by planting strawberries this spring. Source: Hoover, E.E., E.S. Tepe, and D. Foulk. 2015. Growing strawberries in Minnesota gardens. WW-05625. UMN Extension.  



Randy Nelson
Extension Educator, Home Hort & Ag Production Systems
(218) 299-5020
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