|my strawberry patch|
|June Bearing Strawberries|
I will add that I only use organic, composted matter, to fertilize my plants.
Here are some tips that I could share to other's thinking of starting their own strawberry patch.
1) Research the variety you select to match your weather / micro climate.
2) Provide excellent drainage and full sun.
3) Add compost in the fall to your strawberry patch.
4) Cut runners / prune plants back in early March (here in the Pacific Northwest). This helps the plant focus it's energy on itself, not growing new plants. At this pruning time, this is an excellent time to take healthy runners and expand your strawberry patch. Remove old leaves and keep your patch tidy.
5) Weed your patch early in the season. Once the plants get larger, it's hard to get in-between and pull the weeds out. Keeping the weeds out helps reduce competition for moisture and also keeps better airflow around the plants.
6) Don't water or fertilize much during the spring growing season. I kid you not, but the more these plants suffer, the sweeter those berries are that they produce. (This only applies to folks in the Willamette Valley..I can't speak for the rest of you.)
7) During strawberry season, pick and toss out the berries that get moldy or have been chomped by bugs. Keep your berry patch tidy and disease, mildew and bug free.
8) Don't use chemicals to get rid of pests. Rotate and start your crop elsewhere if you cannot get rid of disease and start over. You are what you eat.
9) Get your family involved at harvest time. Kids love to pick berries. Make a batch of freezer jam, or hull, slice and freeze for later use. There is nothing I love more than to pull a bag of frozen strawberries from our freezer in the middle of winter.
If you decide to start growing strawberries in June, you will need to water them to help them mature and root during their first summer. But after that...it's pretty smooth sailing. I water my established patch about every three days, but only during the hottest part of summer (about late July through August). Otherwise, I leave them alone.
No space for a strawberry patch? Consider growing them as a ground cover in your flower beds!
Check out this helpful pdf from the Oregon State Extension Service on home growing strawberries.
Excuse me now, as I have a bowl of juicy strawberries waiting for me to eat!