Strawberries, that sweet red fruit full of health benefits, can easily be grown in your own backyard. Whether it’s in a pot on the patio or in the ground in the vegetable garden, all it needs is the right care to produce a bountiful crop of berries. Discover the tips you need to know to grow plenty of strawberries at home:
Choosing the right plants and the right time to plant them
Strawberry plants (neutral days)
Ideal planting time: Spring
Although fruit production is greatest early in the season, everbearing strawberry plants produce fruit continuously – from June to the first frost.
- Seascape – Very popular variety, rustic and very productive. Bright red strawberry, very fat, firm and juicy with a sweet taste. Requires winter protection for a second year of production. Harvest from mid-July to October.
- Mara des Bois – Small strawberry of medium firmness and light red color. Juicy flesh with a wild strawberry taste. Easy to grow, several times award-winning variety. Harvest from June.
- Delizz – Compact plants are perfect for pots, hanging baskets or the garden. Produces large, bright red, very sweet fruits with a slight field fruit flavor. Harvest from mid-July to October.
- Keoki – This beautiful white-fleshed strawberry produces fruit continuously until fall. Sweet, tropical flavor reminiscent of pineapple. This strawberry plant is not self-fertile, so plant it near another strawberry plant to encourage pollination.
Non-rotating strawberry plants (short days)
Ideal planting time: August
This gives the non-overlapping strawberry plants time to root before the cold season arrives. Massive fruit production will begin the following spring and will last for 1 to 3 weeks before fruiting stops completely.
- Early (June) – Galletta – Hardy and very productive plant with an upright habit and resistant to common foliar and root diseases. Very good size fruits, deep red and shiny. Requires a different variety nearby to bear fruit.
- Mid-season (Mid-June to July) – Jewel – One of the most popular varieties. Large foliage with an upright habit. Produces strawberries of light red color and impressive size. Juicy and firm, it keeps longer than other varieties.
- Late (Mid-July to End of July) – St-Laurent – Hardy and very productive plant with a spreading habit and resistant to common leaf diseases. Large, firm, light red fruits. Pleasant flavor with a slight field fruit aroma. Excellent shelf life. Best production with 2 different cultivars.
Planting your strawberry plants properly
They are grown in full sun or, in a pinch, in half-shade (a little shade is appreciated when the weather is very hot) in a well-drained, rich and slightly acidic soil. The Acid-loving plant & Berry Soil Mix is your best ally.
Whether in a hanging planter or in the ground, plant your strawberry plants so that the collar of the plant is level with the soil. If you bury the collar, the plant may rot; if it is clearly above the ground, it may dry out.
- Finally, it is recommended to spread straw mulch around the plants to control weeds, conserve soil moisture and keep the fruit clean. Finally, you should ideally cover your plants with a net to prevent birds from eating your fruit.
Maintain your strawberry plants
To increase flowering and fruiting, you will need a fertilizer rich in potassium, such as Natural Fertilizer for Acid-Loving Plants and Berries and some Sea Compost.
Strawberry plants thrive in moist soil. Be aware that a lack of water could reduce the production of the fruit and even diminish its taste. It is therefore best to avoid letting the soil dry out between two waterings. But be careful, too much water could also be harmful to your plants, to the point of rotting the roots. It is therefore best to opt for frequent and light watering early in the morning, avoiding wetting the foliage.
And what about the runners!
Do you notice long stems extending from your plant and crawling along the ground to root further into the garden? These stems are actually new plants called runners. This is the way strawberry plants reproduce. You have two options:
- Prune them to stimulate fruit production and avoid exhaustion of your main plant.
- Transplant them to get new plants. If your strawberry plants are growing in the ground, let them root. When new leaves appear and the plants are well established, cut the stem that connects them to the main plant. You can then pull out your new plants and replant them in the desired location.
Harvesting and storing your fruit
Depending on the variety of strawberries you choose, they can be harvested throughout the season. It is best to wait until the fruit is fully ripe – when it is colored all the way to the base – before picking. Once picked, strawberries do not ripen. Strawberries are best eaten fresh, but can be stored for two to three days in the refrigerator. To get the most out of them, take them out an hour before eating them. Be aware that it is best to wash them just before eating them as moisture causes them to rot.
You can also store them in the freezer. Start by rinsing and removing the stems, then lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Once frozen, place your strawberries in an airtight bag or container and return to the freezer for up to 6 months.
Don’t throw the tails away!
Did you know that strawberry tails are perfectly edible and can be used to flavor lemonade, among other things. To do so, you must macerate 4 cups of strawberry tails in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar for 2 days in the refrigerator. Strain, and add this juice to any beverage!
Prune plants in the fall
The ideal time to prune your strawberry plants is in August. Once the harvest is over, trim off the dead leaves with pruning shears and topdress with compost. The topping method consists of removing the top 10 cm (4″) and replacing it with new soil – in this case compost.
When the plants go dormant (usually around mid-November), it will be important to protect your plant with a thick layer of straw mulch so that they can better withstand winter conditions. In the spring, as soon as young pale yellow leaves appear under the mulch (around the end of April), remove the mulch to clear the plants and promote the growth of young shoots.
Note that strawberry plants tend to accumulate diseases over time and their production fades. It is therefore recommended to replace them with new plants every 3 or 4 years.