I still remember exactly why and when we planted our first strawberry patch at the farm.
It was early spring of 2012, and Mary had just made her first ever batch of Strawberry-Honey Jam. It was a bit too early for strawberries to be ripe in our area, so she made it from a few quarts of strawberries purchased from our local grocery store.
She happened to mention before I took my first sample that she wanted to grow our own. Not only for the freshness, but because she wanted to make more than just a few jars.
Then I took one taste, and 5 days later, we were planting our first strawberry patch! And we have never ran out of strawberry-honey jam since. See : Our Strawberry-Honey Jam Recipe
There is nothing quite like the taste of home-grown strawberries. The flavor and freshness simply can’t be beat. And best of all, planting and maintaining your own perennial crop couldn’t be easier!
Here is a look at how to grow your own delicious strawberry patch from start to finish, including some great varieties to plant as well.
How To Plant A Strawberry Patch
Choosing The Right Variety To Grow
Strawberries are divided into two categories, June bearing (sometimes called spring bearing), and Everbearing.
June bearing is our personal favorite, simply because they tend to be larger and juicier than everbearing varieties. They are perfect for fresh eating, making pies, preserves, and of course – strawberry honey jam!
June bearing strawberries have one major harvest season in late spring to early summer. The berries all ripen over a 3 to 4 week period, and then the plants are done. Another reason they are great for preserving.
Everbearing strawberries on the other hand produce fruit all season long.
They are a good selection for people wanting a small supply of fresh strawberries throughout the growing year. They are wonderful for enjoying fresh, or as a topping on yogurt, ice cream or cereal.
Everbearing varieties tend to be smaller in size with lower overall yields. The plants also tend to be more compact, making them a great choice for patios and planters.
But if you are looking to make preserves, etc., June bearing is the way to go. And the best way to grow them is by planting your very own perennial strawberry patch.
Preparing To Plant A Strawberry Patch – The Soil
Strawberries grow best in fertile soil that drains well. And since they are a perennial crop, the soil needs to be amended before planting in order to give them years of good future growth.
The best way to do this is by using compost. Work in generous amounts of compost to the soil before planting. A good rule of thumb is to use a 5 gallon bucket of compost for every 10 plants.
If the soil is hard or clay-like, a bit of fine sand added in will help as well.
When To Plant Your Strawberry Patch
For areas with cold winters, planting is best done early in the spring. If you live in a warmer climate with more temperate winters, plant in late fall for a first crop the following early spring.
For us here in Ohio, late April is the best time to get transplants in the ground. You may get a few berries from your spring planting, but the real crop begins from the second season on.
Raise The Planting Ground
Strawberries do best when planted on raised ground within the rows. Mound up the soil to form rows that are 8 to 10 inches wide by a few inches high. Taper the mounds down on each side to help shed off excess rain or water.
Plant young transplants 10″ apart in the rows. Allow for 18 to 24″ between rows to walk and pick easily.
Plant so that the upper portion of the crown is just slightly above the level of the ground. The crown is the portion that is directly above the root area, and below the first set of leaves.
As you plant, make sure you press in the soil gently around the roots to prevent plants from heaving out.
Preventing Weeds With A Barrier
When planting a strawberry patch, weeds are the enemy of a good harvest. When present, they steal nutrients from the soil needed by the strawberry plants.
One of the best ways to prevent weeds around plants is to cover the planting rows with landscape fabric. It is easiest to do this before planting.
Create your planting rows and then roll out the fabric over them. Cut holes out for plants by making a few slits with a knife to allow for planting and watering. Product link : Landscape Fabric 3 x 150′
Long Term Care Of A Strawberry Patch
Once established, June bearing strawberries benefit greatly from being cut back after they finish producing.
This helps to grow a stronger root system, and encourages new growth and blooms for the following year. Plants can be mowed off or cut back to the ground in the first few weeks of July.
Mowing off in early summer allows the plants plenty of time to grow back before winter. This is important to both protect plants, and grow out their buds to become next years strawberries.
Whatever you do, don’t mow plants off in the fall or you risk losing your crop. If they are still growing, simply leave them be until next summer.
At the time of mowing off, it is a great practice to apply an inch or so of compost on top of the plants. As the compost breaks down, it adds nutrients back in the soil, feeding plants for next year’s crop.
Mulching Your Strawberry Patch For Winter
As late fall approaches, mulch plants with 4 to 6 inches of straw, shredded leaves, or pine needles. This helps them through the frigid winter months, preventing them from the risk of freezing out.
Because strawberries prefer the soil to be more on the acidic side – this is one time where pine needles make an excellent mulch.
Although a perennial, as plants age in years, they will begin to decline in production. After 4 or 5 years, it is best to start replacing the original plants with new growth offshoots.
These are the runner plants that have established from the main plant. This can be done when plants finish production. Simply remove the old portion of the plant and replant the newer offshoots. They will settle in by the end of the growing season to become next years “new” plants.
A Few Great Varieties To Try For Your Strawberry Patch
All-Star – A June Bearing variety with good flavor, size and texture. It is our go to plant for sure! Product Link : All Star Berries
Earliglow – This is a deep red and shiny strawberry – another great choice for June bearing. firm and very sweet. Product Link : Earlyglow Strawberry Plants
Ozark Beauty – If you are looking for an everbearing variety that is good in both cold and warmer climates, this is it! Excellent for patio planters or a small patch as well. See : Ozark Beauty Plants
Here is to growing your own delicious strawberry patch for years to come! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary
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