Things to know when growing strawberries

Homegrown strawberries are a billion times better tasting than the hard, rarely ripe, flavorless selection in the supermarket. Strawberries are cold-hardy and adaptable, making them one of the easiest berries to grow. While most fruit trees take several years to begin bearing, you can harvest strawberries the first summer.

There are two main kinds of strawberries: June-bearing and Ever-bearing varieties.

June-bearing produce all at once, usually over a period of about three weeks. Because of their earliness, high quality and concentrated fruit set, June-bearers produce high yields and are the best variety for preserving.

Ever-bearing strawberries produce a big crop from spring flowers, set light flushes of fruit through summer, and then bloom and bear again in late summer and fall.

When planting strawberries, be sure the crown is above soil level and the upper most roots are 1/4 inch beneath soil level; buried crowns rot and exposed roots dry out. Strawberry plants should be placed 14-18 inches apart from each other in neat rows that are separated by 2-3 feet each. Let runners fill in until plants are 7-10 inches apart.

Use mulch to keep berries clean, conserve moisture and control weeds.

If you want to keep it simple, plant strawberries in a container. Just remember that container plantings need much more water than in-ground plantings, usually once a day; and twice if it’s hot. Strawberry pots are the obvious, best container choice for growing strawberries. You can fit several plants in one pot; just make sure whatever type of garden pot you use has good drainage.

Strawberries like well drained fairly rich soil, so be sure to add compost or other organic matter when preparing the pot or patch.

They need full sun, 6-8 hours per day, and frequent, deep soakings. They will grow in all zones and should be fed twice a year.

Control slugs and snails by handpicking them off plants and prevent theft from birds by covering your patch with netting as the first berries ripen.

– Green Earth Media Group