Everything about Strawberries and How to Plant Them
Snacking on juicy and sweet strawberries can make you feel better. Unfortunately, the store bought ones do not always have the taste and texture that you like. To avoid this disappointment, you can try to plant your own strawberries. As long as you choose the right variety and know how to plant strawberries, you will be able harvest sweet and juicy fruits.
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What You Must Know about Strawberries
If you want to grow strawberries, you have sufficient understanding about this plant. Therefore, when you start the process of how to plant strawberries, you will be able to perform this process easily. These particular fruits have many interesting facts. Here are some of them.
Strawberries are herbaceous plants which come from the genus of Fragaria. The big strawberries that are available in the markets today are a hybrid species of this genus. Its scientific name is Fragaria x ananassa.
This particular fruit was originally from temperate regions, especially North America. Thousands of years ago, Fragaria virginiana or wild strawberries grew wild in this area. Another wild strawberry variety was also found in Chile. It is Fragaria chiloensis.
Even though the fruits are a native of North America, but wild strawberries are also found in European forests. There are several species of strawberries that are found throughout the continent. Some of them are F. viridis, F. vesca, and F. moschata. An old roman literature said that this fruit had been used as medicine.
Moreover, the cultivation of wild strawberries was done by the French in the 14th century. The fruit plants even became one of the favorites of the king of French in his royal garden. Those wild strawberries were brought from the forest and planted in this garden.
However, the first garden strawberry cultivation had not begun until the 18th century in Brittany, French. This practiced was caused by the introduction of F. virginiana plants and Chilean strawberry plants in this country. Then, European botanists created a hybrid from these two species.
This new variety produces big, juicy, and tasty fruits. Later on, Fragaria x ananassa becomes more popular and commercially cultivated. Meanwhile, other species were no longer widely cultivated.
2. General Characteristics of Strawberries
In general, strawberry plants love sun. They need between 6 and 10 hours of sun per day. Moreover, this plant is suitable to USDA hardiness zone 2 to 10. Therefore, before you perform the methods of how to plant strawberries, you need to make sure that you live in those zones. Moreover, you also need to be sure that there is a spot in your garden that is exposed to full sun.
These perennial fruit plants can live in different soil conditions. However, if you want to attain nice harvest next year, you need to plant them in loamy soil. This fertile soil will give appropriate nutrition to these plants. In addition, those plants need soil with the right acidity level, between 5.5 and 7. If you don’t have this kind of soil in your garden, you can grow them in containers.
In addition, you must have enough space for the plants to send their runners. You can propagate the runners when they have been establishing themselves on the ground. This propagation will help you to have new strawberry plants. In addition, it will also help the sprawling plants to be more focused in producing flowers and fruits.
These plants can live for about 5 years. However, they usually decrease their yield on the third year onward. Therefore, it is better for you to replace them with younger plants. Moreover, you need to consider rotating your plants. When you are planting the new ones, it is better for you to plant them in a new location
3. Flowers and Pollination
Strawberry plants produce white flowers. These flowers are self-fertile. However, it is important for the female flower part (pistil) to be pollinated thoroughly. Incomplete pollination will produce a small fruit or a weird-shape fruit. In order to achieve complete pollination, strawberry flowers need the aid of insects or wind.
Strawberry farmers usually snip the first blooms. It is done so that the energy of the plants will be used for developing strong roots. Therefore, you will have better harvest next time.
4. Fruit and Its Nutritional Value
Strawberry may bear the name ‘berry’. But, this fruit is actually not a berry according to botanists. Berry, in botany, is a fruit which is formed by an ovary of one flower and has fleshy pulp and seeds. Meanwhile, a strawberry is formed by an enlarged flower or receptacle of the ovaries.
The brighter spots on the surface of strawberries are actually the ovaries of a strawberry flower that contain its seeds. This particular fruit has dark red outer part and lighter colored inner part. However, there are certain strawberries that have white outer part.
Strawberries are very rich in vitamin C. If you eat 100 g of this fruit, you will be able to meet about 70% of your vitamin C daily needs. In addition, the fruits contain high amount of manganese and small amount of folate, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Moreover, they are high in antioxidants, such as flavonoids and fisetin.
Strawberries are widely used in desserts, such as pies, cakes, and fruit salads. Moreover, the fruits are also made into various beverages, such as juice, lemonade, and milkshake. In addition, it is also used to flavor ice cream, gelato, and yogurt. However, strawberries are great eaten fresh as snacks. Some people add cream on their strawberries so that they taste more delicious.
6. Varieties of Strawberries
There are several strawberry varieties. Different countries usually have different varieties due to different hardiness zones. Those varieties usually require different care. Therefore, if you want to have satisfying harvest, you must know how to plant strawberries based on their particular varieties.
Strawberry varieties are grouped into three types.
If you want to harvest strawberries in the spring, summer, and fall, you must choose one of the everbearing varieties. Moreover, they are also perfect for you who live in colder areas since it can stand cold temperature better.
These varieties usually bloom in the fall and yield excellently in the spring. Then, in the summer, they produce less fruits. But, in the same season, they bloom and bear fruits again in the fall. Some of these varieties are Ogalla and Larame.
These particular varieties are perfect for you who live in warmer areas. They have different qualities compared to the everbearing varieties. In consequence, you must perform proper methods of how to plant strawberries for June-bearing varieties. However, they are pretty easy to grow in home gardens
They bloom in the fall. Then, these varieties bear fruits in June. However, if planted in warmer climates, they produce fruits before June. These plants only yield once in a year. Therefore, you will likely have a big crop at once. Moreover, they also grow more runners than the everbearing varieties. Some of the June-bearing varieties are Sparkle, Jewel, and Honeoye.
Those varieties of strawberries are perfect for you who live in an area with temperature that stay between 1o C and 30o C. At this condition, day-neutral varieties will produce fruit all the time. Therefore, you will be able to get strawberries anytime you want.
In addition, these varieties will keep sending runners at that condition. In consequence, you will be able to propagate them easily. Some of the day-neutral varieties are Albion, Seascape, and Charlotte.
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How to Plant Strawberries
Many people said that strawberries which are harvested from a home garden are sweeter than the store bought ones. If you want to prove it, you must try to plant your own strawberries. In order to grow them, you need to know the steps of how to plant strawberries.
There are two ways of planting strawberries. You can plant them from seeds or from starters. Planting these plants from seeds takes more time. Moreover, it takes longer time for the plant to yield. But, if you plant from starters, you can cut the time in planting and waiting for the plants to yield. If you are a beginner, it is better for you to choose the latter.
There is another thing that you must know before planting strawberries, i.e. the best time to plant them. Planting them at the right time will allow you to have your harvest on time. Experts recommend you to plant it in spring, especially if you plant them from seeds. When the right time comes, you can start the process of how to plant strawberries from starters.
1. Preparing The Soil
Strawberries starters can be planted in containers or directly to the ground. If you choose the former, you need to prepare the containers, potting mix, and compost. But, if you choose the latter, you can follow these tips.
- You need to choose the right spot for your starters. They generally need at least 6 hours of sun per day. Moreover, this spot must not plant them on an area which previously used for planting eggplants, tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers.
- It is a must for your planting site to be well drained. Therefore, planting the strawberries in a raised bed will be an excellent idea.
- Remove all the weeds in the planting spot. After that, enrich the soil with aged manure or compost and create the raised bed.
- Create wide and deep enough holes for planting the starters. They must be spaced about 20 inches between holes and 4 feet between rows.
2. Selecting The Starters
To get the best result, you need to choose high quality strawberries starters. These are several things that you must look for when selecting them.
- The length of the roots must be 8 inches long or less. If they are longer than that, you must trim them.
- Choose disease resistant varieties
- The starters must have crown intact.
- They must not show any signs of disease or rotting.
At this stage, you can follow these steps of how to plant strawberries.
- Soak the root of the starters in a cup of water for an hour.
- Cut any old leaves
- Place the starter carefully in the holes so that the roots are not damaged or bend.
- Cover the roots with enough soil and make sure that the crown is above the ground.
- Water it.
4. Caring for Strawberry Plants
Mulching is very important because it will give various advantages to your plants. It can make the soil stay moist. It will also help you manage the weed easier. In mulching the raised bed, you can use pine straw or plastic. In winter, you must have thicker straw mulch to protect the plants from frost.
Young strawberry plants need an inch of water once a week. Keeping the soil moist is very important for them. Moreover, when they start flowering and developing runners, you need to give them more water. You must also give them more water in the fall.
In fertilizing your strawberry plants, you can use compost or all-purpose granules. The best time to fertilize them is after they are fruiting. Moreover, you must also enrich the soil before September.
Fighting Pests and Diseases
There are several pests and diseases that may affect the growth of your strawberries. Some of them are slugs, birds, and Japanese beetles. To keep slugs away, you can use gritty mulch. Meanwhile to keep birds away from your ripening strawberries, you can put a net above your plants. And to repel insects, you can use organic insecticide.
Your strawberries are ready to be harvested when they are fully red. It takes between 4 weeks and 6 weeks after the plants bloom for the fruit to ripe. Since they can be easily decayed, you must be careful in harvesting them. You can cut the stems of the strawberries using sharp and clean scissors.
If you follow the steps of how to plant strawberries appropriately, you will be successful in planting this particular fruit plant. In consequence, you will gain large amount of strawberries. However, you may not be able to eat them all. In order to preserve them, you can store them in the freezer or make them into jelly.
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