The fascinating fruits in your garden can be strawberries. They are popularly known because they fruit early and offer you the first real taste of summer. Strawberries grow in almost any type of soil, but they prefer well-drained loam soil with a pH level above 6.0. If you're not sure of the pH level or soil type, don't worry because strawberries are hardy.
It is important to make sure the soil where you grow strawberries has good aeration and proper drainage. Do not plant them in the ground where you have grown them for the past 5 to 8 years, as there may still be soil diseases infecting your plants and causing poor yields. Each type of soil gives the strawberry its flavor, like grapes in wine, so your garden can produce the berries, which have different tastes than other fields.
Types of Strawberries
1. June bearing strawberries
These are the most common type of strawberries grown, which produce a large crop of berries in 2-3 weeks, usually in June. Also, they are known as short-day strawberries because they are referred to as late, mid, and early seasons to differentiate varieties, which produce slightly different seasons. The plants bear fruit from the second year and produce for two to four years in favorable growing conditions. Planting more varieties from every period can extend the harvesting period.
2. Everbearing strawberries
Most of them are hybrids garden strawberries, but some are Fragaria vesca species. They are not actually everbearing, but they produce two main fruits in late summer, late spring, and in early fall. They have smaller fruits, and the plants produce fewer vines than the June type. Some varieties are suitable for hot climates.
3. Day-neutral strawberries
Flower and fruit production is continuous, and yields are lower but constant from late spring until frost. The plants produce fruits during the first season that are usually smaller than everbearing and June species. They are less tolerant to conditions like dry soils, weedy conditions, or crowding.
What Do Strawberries Grow on?
Most of the time, strawberries grow on the specialized strawberry pot, planter, hanging basket, or a well-drained container. Also, a container with multiple drain holes or one hole at the bottom can work. Strawberries are known for having a small root ball, and you can grow them in containers with a diameter of 10-12 inches and a depth of 8 inches. If the container is smaller, you will need to water it more often.
Similarly, the light-colored pots and synthetic pots keep roots cooler than natural and dark colors heat-conducting materials like metal and clay. Strawberries don't like very hot temperatures, therefore choose light-colored containers if you're living in the hot climate.
How To Grow Strawberry Plants
1. Prepare the plants
Strawberries can be started from transplants or bare-root crowns. The transplants look immediately lush and beautiful in the containers, but you have to wait for the dormant bare-root crowns to produce leaves and establish. Strawberry plants do not like crowded conditions, and you only plant three strawberry seedlings per square foot. Since their roots are a bit shallow, measure the container's surface area to determine the size.
2. Add soil
Fill a container with loose, loamy soil, which retains moisture but drains excess water quickly. Make sure you use the container with the drainage hole at the base.
3. Plant the strawberry plants
Plant strawberries so that their crowns are above the ground. Create a small mound of the soil and spread the roots over a mound. Cover the roots to the crown with soil and then water them. Add more soil as required after the soil settles after watering, but don't cover a crown with the ground.
4. Place the container
Place the pot in the location, which receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day for higher fruits and flowers. If the sun is only coming from one direction, try rotating the pot every 3 to 4 days so that the plants grow evenly. Likewise, make sure the strawberry plants are protected. Only because they are in the containers does not mean the pests cannot reach them. Birds, rodents, and insects are always attracted to the plants, protecting them with fencing or netting.
5. Water the plants
Whenever you feel the soil is dry, water it to about an inch below the surface. You do not want your plants to stay in soggy soil. Therefore, make sure the soil is kept a little moist, not watery or dry so that the environment for the fruits to grow is optimum. Generally, the soil in the container dries faster than the soil in the ground. Hence, prolonged dry and hot weather may require watering twice a day.
6. Feed the strawberries
Feed the strawberries with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 3 to 4 weeks. Most potted plants benefit from supplemental feeding. Also, be sure to apply a balanced fertilizer in the fall because the plants will form perennial buds, becoming the following fruits and flowers in the year.
7. Offer winter protection
Water the strawberries when the soil is too dry. Strawberries are known for producing the best if allowed to go for dormancy, which is in winter. Nevertheless, the roots can freeze in colder places and break some containers if left outside in the frost. You can move the container under a deck or in unheated garage for winter protection. Also, you can mulch around the container and leave it in one place.
How To Harvest Strawberries?
Try to harvest every overripe or ripe berry. Do not pull the berry from the plant when harvesting but pinch it off from the stem so that the fruit doesn't spoil. Typically, this will help to reduce any disease and problems.
Common Strawberry Problems
Sometimes you will get fungus called botrytis infecting strawberries, which can be a bit annoying. It creates a horrible-looking furry to raise a flag to the animal rights activist nearby. Fungal spores usually come from old leaves, which are in the soil. Also, botrytis can grow in the organic soil, and if you water it, it will reach the ground and splash back to the strawberry flowers. If you add 1-2 inches of compost mulch, it will prevent spores from affecting the plant.
Strawberries are unique fruits that many people love. They can be grown on hanging baskets, strawberry planters, patio containers, and more, ideal for people with limited space. For a hanging basket, you can grow three to four strawberry plants to make them get enough light, nutrients, and water to thrive. Also, growing them protects them from snails, slugs, and small animals that love these fruits. Likewise, add slow-release fertilizers and water-retaining granules before planting.