Planting and Growing Strawberries

Last year our garden wasn’t very successful. I blame it on a few things, such as a cool summer, a small fenced patio/yard with probably not enough sun, and most likely poor soil (not to mention my inexperience). But despite all the dead tomato, carrot, melon plants and more, we did have success with one little crop: strawberries.

Our one little plant flowered and gave us fruit several times throughout the growing season, and was enough of a success to get my daughter (age three) thoroughly excited about gardening.

This year, it looks like we’ll be moving across the neighborhood in a few weeks, so we’re waiting to plant anything, but even so, I’m planning out what I’d like to do. If nothing else, I’ve decided I will plant at least one thing at our new place, and that’s strawberries!

Types of Strawberry Plants

There are many varieties of strawberry plants, but three basic types. You’ll have to choose between June Bearing, Everbearing, and Day Neutral.

June Bearing are the most common type; they produce fruit in a large, one-time crop for a few weeks, have lots of runners (off shoots), and depending on variety can be harvested early, midseason or late.

Everbearing strawberries will produce intermittently (two-three times) throughout the spring, summer and fall, and have less runners.

Day Neutrals will be smaller, but will produce throughout the season (these also have less runners, like the everbearing type).

We live in a region that is actually known for being ideal for strawberries, and in fact, there are strawberry farms we pass on the freeway when drive just a few miles north. As far as I know, these berries are a pretty versatile crop in most places, especially in milder climates. I’d head to your local nursery to ask about the best varieties for where you live, or check out this state-by-state guide.

I’m hoping to plant more than one type of strawberry this year so that we get more than one harvest, and a variety of sizes.

When and Where to Plant

Most sources will tell you to plant your strawberries in early spring, after the last frost.

Strawberries do fine in the ground; that’s how my family always grew them when I was growing up. I have fond memories of walking barefoot out to the sideyard to pick a bowl-full to have in my cereal.

You may need to cover the ground around the strawberries with (repurposed) plastic to protect them from rotting (or just be prompt at picking!) or snails. Another safe way to keep snails off your berries is to use a non-toxic product like Sluggo, or just send your kids out to the garden to find all the snails and dispose of them.

But another great way to plant strawberries is in a container with various “pockets” for your plants to peek out of. You can either put a plant in each pocket, or, plant a couple in the top (main) section, and then train the runners into the pockets where they will root themselves, like Willi Galloway describes in a post on the blog, DigginFood. This method provides a great way to get more plants for your buck. I’m hoping to try growing some of mine in a container this year.

Sun, Water and Soil Needs

Strawberries require full sun and lots of drainage. You don’t want to let them dry out or overwater them. If you want to get technical, they prefer a soil pH of between 5.8 and 6.2 (source). If you’re not at a point in your gardening where you’re that tech-savvy, don’t worry. I’m not either and my strawberries have turned out fine!

If you end up getting a large bounty of strawberries, be sure to whip up a batch of Katie’s delicious freezer jam or maybe some homemade ice cream. Mmmmm….

Have you successfully grown strawberries? Do you prefer to use the ground or containers? What are your favorite ways to enjoy this sweet fruit?

Nicole

Nicole lives near the beach in Southern California with her husband and three young kiddos. She writes a a lifestyle blog about creativity, family life, community, and all sorts of other fun stuff, and also keeps a homeschool journal called The Bennettar Academy. Her most recent (free!) ebook is about why and how to make more time for reading.

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Comments

  1. This will be our first year with strawberries (we put our plants in last year) so I’m crossing my fingers 🙂

  2. I almost planted these last year, but now this year since I have some ground I think I’ll will plant them in the ground. As for enjoyment…I like them fresh picked, or sliced in a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Mmm, perfect.

  3. I planted a couple strawberry plants last year in my raised bed and didn’t kill them 🙂 the other plants in my garden didn’t live to produce anything though. So this year I’m going to put other veggies in my wasteland of a front yard and I’ve put “tiers” in my bed and I’ve planted 30 additional bare root strawberry plants (I hope they grow). We spent more than $100 on strawberries last year, so I really hope the plants grow so we can have berries for years.

  4. I planted several strawberry plants a few years ago. They have not produced very well, probably because they’re in a location that’s a bit too shady for them. Full sun is difficult to achieve in our tiny urban yard; I’ve come up with a plan to rework our garden a bit and intend to transplant them this spring to a sunnier location – hopefully they will be more productive there!
    Fortunately we also live in an area where there are plenty of pick-your-own farms, so even if my plants don’t do all that well, there are still plenty of fresh local berries to be had 🙂

  5. With all of the news about strawberries being sprayed with methyl iodide, this is certainly the best way to go. Might start looking into growing some of my own as well, but don’t get much direct sunlight on my balcony. Need to get creative with it.

  6. I’m going to plant some strawberries this year in my Square Foot garden. If you haven’t heard of square foot gardening, check out the book by Mel Bartholomew from your library and give it a read! I’ll probably do a variety of strawberry types-I’m excited!

  7. Thanks for the info! I’ve been thinking about what to plant this year and I would LOVE to include strawberries- I just didn’t know where to start!

  8. Nicole , Fun that I found your post in that I just started studying up on strawberries. I live in an area that is almost to cool to plant many summer vegetables, but berries do well. So that is going to be a focus for me. For sure good to know about the different categories of strawberries , short day or June, day-neutral and ever-bearing. Also their is Alpine. One of the difference between the categories is when the flower bud begins to develop and under what temp. that occurs. I read that the Short day or June berries must have nicely developed “leaf canopy” in order to feed this flower bud that is form inside the plant in the fall. It is amazing that inside that strawberry plant what is going on in Sept will show up the following June as a berry. Isn’t are Creator God amazing!

  9. Really appreciate your efforts in providing so much information about the Strawberry plants. I simply love this fruit and enjoy reading all the topics related to it. thanks again

  10. Good job. I love growing plants.

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