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STRAWBERRIES

  How To Grow Strawberries


PLANT TYPE: Perennial
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Fragaria spp
ZONE / HARDINESS: Hardy to Zone 2 if covered
MATURE PLANT SIZE: 6 to 12 inches high x 12 inches wide - may spread rapidly
LIGHT: Full Sun
FLOWERING PERIOD: July to September
SOIL TYPE: light, dry, well-drained soil
pH RANGE: 5.8 to 6.5
KNOWN PESTS: Slugs and spider mites
KNOWN DISEASES: Gray mold


OVERVIEW:

Strawberries require direct, full sunlight for best production. Strawberries bloom early in the spring, so don't plant them in frost pockets (low-lying areas) in which cold air drains or areas (surrounded by tall trees, for example) where cold air is trapped.

Avoid planting strawberries where tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, strawberries, raspberries, or black berries have grown in the past 3 years. These plants can all act as hosts for fungi, such as Verticillium wilt, and insect pests that build up in the soil unless you place these crops on at least a 3-year rotation schedule. Protect strawberry plants from deer as they will appreciate fresh young plants early in the season.


PROPAGATION / SOWING:

Strawberries take care of propagating themselves very well by sending out runners or daughter plants that root nearby. These can be used to renew the strawberry patch. Allow these to root and then transplant to a new strawberry bed. It is highly recommended to buy plants if you have no existing strawberry beds.


CARE & GROWING:

Plant your strawberry roots as soon as your soil has warmed. If you must keep them for a short period, keep the roots slightly moist and cool. Choose a sunny location in your garden with a soil pH of 6-6.5 and set plants out on a cloudy day or in the evening to avoid the stress of heat on the young plants.

While preparing the beds, soak roots with water. Till in compost and dig a shallow trench for each row with rows 4' apart. With your hands, form a small dome of soil every 12" in the row. Trim your strawberry roots to 5" long to encourage healtier, new root development. Drape roots over soil dome, with the crown centered at the peak. Add soil, tamp down and water. Crown of plant should be at the soil surface. Keep the bed weed free and side-dress one month after planting. Pinch off all flowers the first summer to send more energy to the development of runners (daughter plants). Use a seed and weed free mulch in the late fall and place directly over the plants to protect from freeze and thaw cycles. Remove mulch after last frost in spring and place into paths between rows. Strawberries will produce a vigorous crop of juicy berries in the early summer of your second year which will be followed by heavy runner production. To keep production strong and healthy, plant new roots into a new area after your second year of harvest.


HARVESTING:

During the second growing season pick berries as they ripen. Do not allow berries to over-ripen as this will attract wasps and hornets.


WINTER MULCHING:

In addition to value for weed control, mulching is necessary to provide winter protection for the plants. Apply straw that is free of weed seeds two to three inches deep over the plants after they have been subjected to several sharp freezes in the low 30s or high 20s in fall. This is generally between November 15 and 30, but no later than December 15.

Strawberry flower buds are very susceptible to spring frosts. Mulches used for winter protection should be pulled from plants in early spring, before there is much leaf yellowing. The mulch should be left in the alleyways and can be used to cover blossom in the spring when frost is predicted, especially with early cultivars, such as Earliglow. Frost protection could be the difference between a good crop and no crop.


USAGE:

Most cultivars of strawberries are well suited to freezing and processing as well as fresh. Eat fresh-picked fruit. Strawberries are also excellent for jams, jellies, and pies. Freshly sliced and sugared strawberries are excellent when served over shortcake or ice cream. In addition, strawberries contain a natural substance called ellagic acid, which is an anti-carcinogenic compound.




POPULAR STRAWBERRY VARIETIES

Cabot Strawberries

Hardy to Zone 2 (when covered in winter)
A late mid-season strawberry noted for its large, juicy berries. Sturdy plants with bright red berries and excellent flavour.

Kent Strawberries

Hardy to Zone 2 (when covered in winter)
Kent strawberries are large, very juicy and delicious red berries. Perfect for eating fresh, freezing and jams. Kent is a favourite for home gardeners and commercial growers. This variety is vigourous and produces high yields of bright red strawberries.

Tristar Strawberries

Hardy to Zone 2 (when covered in winter)
The tristar strawberry will produce starwberries through the summer and even into the fall. Tristar produces delicious medium sized berries. Since Tristar does not produce as many runners, they are perfect for apartment balconies or rooftop as they can be planted in pots.

Veestar Strawberries

Hardy to Zone 2 (when covered in winter)
A very popular and frequently grown early-season strawberry. It is well known for its very sweet flavour. The Veestar variety produces high yields of dark red, medium sized berries. Excellent for jam!













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Wasps love ripe strawberries! When strawberries begin to produce fruit, use a cover with small enough mesh to prevent access or pick fruit as soon as it is ripe and ready to harvest.





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