Strawberries from Florida and California have been appearing at the supermarket in past few weeks, for what seems to me to be pretty reasonable prices. Which makes me long for some fresh picked strawberries from the garden!
Strawberries are a favorite at our house, and we do buy them at the store, but I prefer to eat strawberries that have NOT been grown with possible chemical inputs, picked somewhere far away, and shipped long distances to my local grocery store. Locally grown produce is always better.
So I’ve been thinking about strawberries, and I’ve just ordered 25 new strawberry plants to increase my already large strawberry patch. I’m getting the cultivar ‘Seascape’, which is a day-neutral type.
Many people have asked about the different types of strawberries available and which are best for our area, so I’ll describe them here. There are three basic types, based on the development of flowers in response to daylength. As the names imply, each type has a different fruiting pattern. You may choose to plant one type, or some of each – as I have.
June-bearing strawberries have one large crop of large berries each year. This is great if you are interested in freezing or making jellies. There are early, mid-season and late varieties, so you can extend the harvest time by a few weeks by choosing some of each, but all produce in early summer.
Everbearing strawberries can produce fruit when the days exceed 12 hours of daylight. This usually results in a moderately heavy crop in early summer, a few berries through the summer, and a light crop in late summer or fall. The total harvest of ever-bearers will be less than the single crop of June-bearing berries, but the spreading out of the crop is sometimes desireable.
Everbearing cultivars produce few runners. This makes it easier to keep track of the plants, and keeps them from running out of the beds into the lawn or pathways, but you may need to buy new plants when it is time to renovate the bed.
Day-neutral strawberry cultivars produce fruit and runners throughout the growing season with three peaks: early-June, mid-July and late August. Temperatures over 75o F stop bud formation, so not as many fruit are formed when it is really hot. Cooler soil temperatures result in larger berries, too. Day-neutral berries are normally smaller than other types, but they are delicious.
One type of day-neutral strawberry, the alpine strawberry, may be easily grown from seed. Alpine strawberry plants produce tiny, delectable berries and make excellent edging or groundcover plants.
Planting Bare Root Strawberries
- Bare root strawberry plants are simply a root with a compressed stem, or crown, that may have a few shrivelled leaves attached. They arrive in a bundle from the grower at the right time for planting.
- The plants should be soaked in a bucket of warm water for about 20 minutes to start to re-hydrate the root and crown.
- To plant them, dig a hole large enough to accomodate the roots. Spread the roots in the hole and fill with soil. The crown, the place where the where the stems emerge from the roots, should sit just at soil level.
- Water well after planting, and add a 2-inch layer of mulch to the soil around the plant. Be careful not to bury the crown with the mulch.
May you have scrumptious strawberry dreams, and happy gardening!