Monday, 9 May 2011
Strawberries are a wonderful summer fruit. They have good aroma and excellent taste, and are appeasing to the eye. Strawberries typically ripen between late April and June. There are two main types of strawberries, June-bearing and Ever-bearing. Ever-bearing produce a crop in Spring and then a crop in Fall. June-bearing typically bear fruit for a couple of months in the late Spring early Summer.
The first strawberry that was bred was in Brittany, France in 1740.
Strawberries grown commercially are usually grown in raised bed systems, with black plastic to keep erosion and weeds down. They are usually replanted every 1-2 years because of disease.
For the home gardener strawberries are a fun crop to grow. When grown correctly they can provide quite a nice yield, up to a quart per plant!
The main things to consider when planting strawberries is how good the soil is, do you want to take up the room, and which varieties?
The better the soil the less pests essentially. For little or no aphids on your plants, grow strawberries in pure hummus or compost. Aphids don't like strawberries when they are grown in pure hummus, I assume due to the plant being healthier. You want to add some fertilizer to it, high rich compost that has not lost nutrients will work pretty good, though I would probably add some bone and blood meal and comfrey leaves to the soil. The bone meal will release phosphorus slowly, and the blood meal will release nitrogen rather quickly. The comfrey leaves decompose fast and add nutrients, nitrogen, and phosphorus. You want a thick mulch of straw to keep weeds down and help strawberries stay cleaner when it rains.
The room for growing strawberries is not a whole lot. Plant them with between 12-18 sq inches per plant. Most of the time strawberries are sold in bundles of 25 plants. Expect 25 to give a small harvest the first year (or none if you pinch off flowers for bigger growth) and then a couple of gallons depending on how the soil is. For a small garden you probably don't want to take up more room then 25 plants worth, besides the fact that strawberries send out runners that propagate into new plants quickly.
What varieties? I have June bearing and like the yields. For 25 plants, and only getting one kind, I would say that is up to you. If growing more than 25 plants try getting a mix of June-bearing and Ever-bearing ones, so you get strawberries all summer long. If you plant strawberries in the Fall, you can expect to get a small harvest in the Spring, versus planting in the Spring and getting little or no harvest.
Strawberries are fun to grow, and taste MUCH better than ones you can buy in the store! Find an online nursery and look up the varieties of strawberries to find the perfect strawberry for you!
Information gleened from: my experience, http://www.farmfreshliving.com/How_to_Grow_Strawberries.html, and wilkipedia