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Grow strawberries in your backyard garden for a tasty treat that will yield lots of tasty strawberries for years to come.
Is there anything else quite like strawberries that just screams summer?
Like most fruits strawberries taste so much better when they are fresh picked and still warm from the sun. The good news is that it’s easy to grow strawberries in your backyard garden!
Since I was a child I’ve looked forward to strawberry season every year. Each summer we would go to local pick your own strawberry farms and pick enough for our year’s strawberry jam and still have some for fresh eating.
This post has been updated in May 2016 with more details and photos!
When we moved to our new urban homestead I knew one of the first plants I wanted to establish was our new strawberry garden! We started with a small raised bed just a few plants for fresh eating and then later put in two 25 foot long rows in the garden.
My favorite way to plant a strawberry patch is with bare root plants. These plants are removed from the soil while they are dormant and kept in cold storage.
They do need an extra season of growth to become well established but bare root strawberry plants are much cheaper in our area than potted plants. You can buy bare rooted plants for about $1 each and have more varieties to select from.
Strawberry Types To Try Growing
There are a few different types of strawberries but the main two for home gardens are June bearing and everbearing plants. I like to grow some of each so we can have a large amount to can and still have fresh eating all summer.
June bearing strawberries produce their crop over a short time window in the late spring to early summer. Because they produce wonderful quality strawberries and set their fruit in a short time period they are a great pick if you want to can or freeze a lot of strawberries.
Everbearing strawberries are also called day-neutral types produce a heavy flush of berries in the early summer. Then they also produce multiple smaller flushes in the later summer and fall. They really need cool night temperatures to encourage a good fruit set. If your growing strawberries in containers these are an excellent choice.
Redcoat is one of my favourite strawberry varieties. It’s the same type that my grandparents grew and it brings back fond memories! Redcoat strawberries are a June bearing plant that produces medium to large firm berries. They are wonderful for fresh eating and canning. Redcoat is considered a mid-season strawberry.
VeeStar is an early season June bearing variety. It’s a vigorous plant that produces many runners. VeeStar produces large amounts of firm medium sized strawberries with a wonderful flavour. These are also great for fresh eating and jam making but do not ship well.
Kent is a mid-season June bearing variety that grows into a large bush plant producing large amounts of medium size strawberries. Kent has a long fruiting season and is often grown on pick your own farms in our area. In hot weather, the berries will darken quickly and the skin can soften so care is needed to pick them often.
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How To Grow Strawberries
Strawberries sometimes have a bad reputation for being hard to grow. The truth is they are actually easy to grow as long as you understand what they need. Strawberries are a perennial plant, this means that they will grow year after year for you so they need a little forethought before planting.
Related: Strawberry Jam Recipe Without Pectin
Strawberries do best in full sun and prefer a south facing slope if possible. That doesn’t mean that you can’t plant strawberries if your yard is shady though. Most of our yard is very shady and the strawberries have done well planted in areas that receive full sun from the early afternoon on.
We are putting in our new strawberry patch this year in our front yard because it’s the only area that does get the sun all day. I expect they will produce much better there!
How To Plant Bare Root Strawberry Plants
If you are not planting your strawberries right away store them in your fridge to keep them in their dormant state. When you are ready to plant take them out and inspect them to make sure they all have nice healthy looking crowns and roots. If the roots are very long trim them back to 5 to 6 inches in length.
After trimming the roots soak them in water for at least a half an hour before planting. You don’t need to submerge the entire plant only the roots need to be under the water.
This soaking period also gives you time to prepare your garden bed. You’re going to want your soil nice and soft to work in. I’ve planted strawberries in raised beds, normal garden plots and now we are planting our new patch in our deep mulch Back to Eden style garden. The process is the same for all of them.
Strawberry plants should be planted 18 to 20 inches apart, they will get big when fully grown and it’s nice to be able to move around the plants without stepping on your beautiful berries.
Dig a hole large enough to fit the roots. Hold the strawberry plant by the crown and spread the roots into the hole, then cover it well with soil. Press it down gently to anchor the plant in. Repeat this with each of your strawberry plants until your finished.
How To Mulch, Fertilize and Water Strawberries
After planting, strawberries are very easy to care for. You will need to water the patch well and mulch it.
Both straw and wood chips work well for strawberries. They help to hold the moisture in and protect the plant roots from freezing.
Strawberries have a shallow root system and can be sensitive to both overwatering and under watering. This is one reason that using a wood chip mulch is my personal favorite. Wood chips will absorb extra moisture from the soil and also help the soil to retain moisture when the weather is dry.
Once the strawberries start to wake up from their dormant state you can give them a side dressing of good quality compost as fertilizer. This is all that is needed until after the plants have given their berry crop. After the fruiting season is done you can side dress the plants again with compost.
In the first year when your June-bearing strawberry plants start to flower, you should remove all the flowers for the first few weeks. This lets the plant put more energy into establishing its roots and sending out runners.
For everbearing strawberries the first year, you should remove all the flowers until the middle of July. This helps the plant establish its roots well before going into fruiting.
Allowing the plants to produce flowers from mid-July on will give you a nice late summer and fall crop of strawberries. The following year they will produce a strawberry crop in June and again later in the summer and fall.
How To Renew Your Strawberry Patch
Over time, your strawberry plants start to slow down in production but that’s ok! Strawberry plants send off runners that will root into the soil and grow baby plants. As these runners form, guide them into new rows where you would like them to grow. After they are rooted well you can dig up and remove the parent plant.
This is the video showing how we planted strawberries in our raised bed garden years ago.
Now go and have fun planting your new strawberries! When they are producing well try making some yummy strawberry jam.
Kim Mills is a homeschooling mom of 6 and lives on an urban homestead in Ontario, Canada. Blogging at Homestead Acres she enjoys sharing tips to help you save money, grow and preserve your own food.