Winter is the time to start planning for strawberries in the summer

A strawberry plant is nestled in its small mound of land in warmer days.

Robert Charles

A strawberry plant is nestled in its small mound of land in warmer days.

Strawberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow, whether in a container or in a garden bed.

In warmer areas, strawberries are already in stores and are typically planted from June to September; strawberries are planted in cooler places, mostly from August to September. In both cases, the current preparation of the strawberry bed greatly contributes to creating succulent red berries in the summer.

Choose a place with sunny, free-flowing soil. Strawberries don’t like wet feet, so deal with any drainage problems before planting to prevent future illnesses. If the soil is prone to waterlogging, plant it in piles, pots or containers.

Prepare the soil two weeks before planting (if possible, even further) by adding a 6-7 cm layer of compost and a light layer of universal balanced fertilizer. Dig them into the soil to a depth of about 20 cm. Water the soil thoroughly and let it sit for two weeks.

When planting, form rows stacked in the prepared soil. Each pile should be about 15 cm high. The furrows between the accumulated soil are used for irrigation and mulching.

Dig a planting hole 30-40 cm apart in the mounds. Spread the roots of the strawberry plant in the soil and plant it deep enough so that the crown of the strawberry plant is even with the ground. If the crown, which is the center of the plant from which new leaves grow, is planted below ground level, the strawberry plant will rot. If the crown is too above ground level, the strawberry plant will dry out and die.

Water the newly planted strawberries and apply a layer of mulch around the plants and into the furrows to retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing. Pine needles or straw are an excellent ground cover for strawberry plants.

Then do not re-fertilize the strawberry plants. Wait until late winter to early spring and apply a fertilizer with a potassium (K) ratio roughly equal to nitrogen (N) – liquid tomato fertilizer is ideal. Re-feed when you see fruit.

Regular watering is essential, especially during fruit development, otherwise small or defective fruit may form. If grown in a greenhouse, provide plenty of daytime ventilation and regular watering.

You will see that the birds will be watching the strawberry spot as closely as you can. They love the beautiful juicy berry as much as you do. If you don’t want to share them, you need to cover the entire patch with a net to keep the birds away.

If you feel like sharing, plant a few strawberry plants in another part of your garden and leave them uncovered to lure the birds away from the strawberry spot.

Strawberry plants are best replaced every three years. As the crowns age, the vitality of the plants deteriorates no matter how much you care for them.

To maintain a constant, healthy supply of plants, cut off one-third of the plants each year and discard one-third of the oldest plants. Next year, remove the cuttings from the other third of your plants and discard one-third of your oldest plants. Do this every year and keep filling your plants with strong, healthy plants.

To cut the cuttings, simply pull up a rooted runner or place a little soil on top of the plant runner and it will take root. After the runner has grown new roots, use a garden trowel to separate it from the mother plant by quickly cutting through the runner near the parent plant. Then transplant it into your compost-enriched soil.

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