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Strawberry Fields Forever, Part II

Cultivating a Strawberry Crop

Planting strawberries isn’t terribly difficult, but it can be a bit time consuming. That’s why we have written this guide – to help you quickly and easily plant strawberries in your own backyard.

Fort Laramie Everbearing Strawberry - Gurney's Seed and NurseryThe first thing you must know about strawberries: they are susceptible to frost damage and rot. Plant them in a high spot in your yard; beds will drain better and you’ll save your plants from frost damage that can occur in pockets of cold air. Strawberries prefer fertile soil amended with compost, with a slightly acidic pH (5.8-6.2).

Before planting, remove damaged roots and trim excessively long roots to about 4-5”. Remove all flowers, runners and old leaves. Soak them in water for 30 minutes while you prep the beds. In a well-drained raised bed, mix the granular fertilizer into the soil. The type of fertilizer you choose will depend on the condition of the soil. For alkaline soils lacking phosphates, try a fertilizer high in phosphorus, like our Gurney’s Strawberry Food. On the other hand, Strawberries Alive! 100% All-Natural from Gardens Alive! is a slow-release fertilizer that supplies a high amount of nitrogen, which is good for overall growth.

Dig a 6” deep, 6” diameter hole for each plant and build a 5” high cone in the bottom of the hole. Drape the roots over the cone and fill the hole with the enriched soil. Planting depth is critical; if the plants are too shallow the crown may dry out, and if they’re too deep the crown may rot. Keep the top 2” of soil moist throughout the growing season. Once your strawberry plants are established put more fertilizer into the surrounding soil. Hand-pull weeds to avoid damaging the plants.

Pick berries when they’re red and taste good, as immature berries won’t ripen off the plant. You’ll get about one quart of berries per plant. Refrigerate berries after harvesting, but don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat them.

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3 comments to Strawberry Fields Forever, Part II

  • angela hartline

    Thank you for this information. When is the best time for me to plant strawberries? I live in the southwest corner of Michigan, about 7 miles from the lake.

  • Phyllis Pugh

    The information provided is good but falls short in providing guidelines for winterizing your strawberry beds. It would probably be different by zones. I’m in zone 5 which can vary greatly. It can be well below zero sometimes for weeks or springlike. Help.

  • Fay

    I’m in wisconsin. When do you cover the plants with straw in the fall?

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