The cultivation of strawberries is not difficult because they are trees that adapt easily to any type of soil. When selecting your strawberry plants, you can choose among existing varieties, knowing that some bear fruit throughout the year. Follow the tips below and you’ll soon have the pleasure of picking strawberries in your own garden.

Double-bearing strawberries arrived from Chile around 1974 although wild strawberries were already present in the Middle Ages and were used to make face masks. These perennials are part of the Rosaceae family and are propagated by air layering.

What are the varieties of strawberry plants?

Before embarking on the cultivation of strawberry plants, it is imperative to know the existing varieties, which can be classified into two categories: the summer-bearing varieties and the ever-bearing varieties. Although the planting of summer-bearing and ever-bearing varieties occur during the same period, harvesting shall take place at different times. Wild strawberry is cultivated between June and October and grows best in partial shade while beach strawberry, which is grown in May, June and during autumn, prefer exposure to the sun. Beach strawberries are only grown in June. Regarding harvesting, know that summer-bearing strawberries are harvested during 25 to 45 days, by waiting 2 to 3 days between pickings, while ever-bearing varieties can be picked from spring until the first frosts.

After selecting your varieties, you can can move on to the next step which is planting. Usually it is best to carry out a four-year crop rotation before the first planting, taking care not to plant eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes or raspberry bushes in the same spot twice in a row. Regarding strawberry plants, choose a sunny or partially shaded area to plant them keeping in mind that even though they may appreciate a cold climate they have a hard time withstanding frost. If the vegetable garden is square, strawberries are usually planted near the edges. Make sure the plants are scattered, yet planted at equal distances from each other. Before putting them in the ground, remove all weeds and waste lying around, then add two handfuls of fertilizer for strawberries per square metre (10.76 ft²). Then, plant the strawberries that you will have previously kept refrigerated. This procedure is to be carried out during the spring or early fall,. Make sure you keep a distance of 16 inches (40 cm) between plants. Note that the strawberry plants adapt to any type of soil, provided that it is well drained. The soil must be very deep, rich in organic matter and humus, but light enough for water to seep in quickly. If you wish so, you can also plant wild strawberries, which grow just as well in the wild as in your garden. These strawberry plants generally produce up to 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg) of strawberries per square meter.

How to maintain your strawberry plants?

Apply manure on your plantations as often as possible and use green manure combined with chemical fertilizers to enhance your ground’s fertility. It is important to water the plants regularly, but not too much especially regarding light soils during dry weather, as strawberry plants have a hard time withstanding excess water. Mulch the seedlings during the high summer temperatures, thus limiting the contact of fruit with the ground. This will also prevent your strawberries from rotting. Furthermore, this technique decreases evaporation and slows down the action of the slugs. Also treat your strawberry plants against powdery mildew and botrytis after flowering, and repeat 15 days after the first treatment. To do this, use an appropriate fungicide or insecticide. After your first harvest, it is recommended to enrich the soil with nitrogen fertilizer in early spring and in June or July. In addition, get used to ploughing the ground in autumn. Once planted, make sure to put plant’s crown just below the ground’s surface. Irrigation will stimulate your plant’s rapid development. You also need to weed late in the season and prune flower beds to a width of approximately 16 to 18 inches (40 to 45 cm). It is also imperative for the soil to be aired out often. The strawberry plants have their enemies, like all other crops, even though they are not very sensitive to diseases if they are properly maintained. To prevent the onset of disease, do not plant your strawberry seedlings too close to each other. Do not keep the first flowers, and it is especially important to remove dry leaves and suckers. If your strawberries are invaded by pests, specific insecticides will help you fight off aphids, mites, mole crickets, white grubs, worms and click beetles. Fungicide is the ideal choice against powdery mildew. Make Bordeaux mixture for the purple stains, remove the fruits bearing grey traces of rot and, finally, replace the plants contaminated by viral infections. If your plantations are intended for commercial use, it would be wise to consult an agronomist.

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Published in Strawberry by Alexander on 07 Sep 2011