Strawberries, but which kind? There are 3 types of strawberries. Deciding on whether to plant June Bearing, Everbearing, or Day Neutral strawberries depends on your available space, size of preferred strawberries and how much work you want to put into your strawberry patch.
- Everbearing (spring, summer, fall) and Day Neutral (unaffected by day length and will fruit whenever temperatures are high enough to maintain growth) are sweet. They will not need much space and both are great for plant hangers. If you choose to plant them in the garden, be prepared to spend time weeding and fertilizing the plants. Everbearing: ♦ Sequoia, has a medium sized berry, is a heavy producer Day Neutral/Everbearing: ♦ Seascape has a large berry!
- June Bearing, mid June, strawberries produce a nice, large and sweet berry. Because they only produce for 2 to 3 weeks, there is not so much work to take care of them. You do, however, need space because of the runners. They are classified into early, mid-season and late varieties. If you planted all 3, you would have a steady supply of large berries. ♦ Chandler, large, high yield, large quantities of small fruit later in season ♦ Short day, Camarosa is large. It can be picked when fully red, and still have a long shelf life. This variety represents almost half of California’s current commercial acreage. ♦ Short day, Oso Grande is a firm, large berry, with a steadier production period than Chandler.
Plant on 12″ centers! Do not plant strawberries where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplant have been grown in the past four years, because these crops carry the root rot fungus Verticillium which also attacks strawberries.
Strawberries like a loose, loamy, slightly acidic soil (pH 6.0-6.5) [use pine needles for mulch] and full sun to achieve peak berry quality! Prepare your strawberry beds by turning under 1/2”-1” high quality, animal manure or plant residue-based compost. Turn it in right at the soil level before transplanting because strawberries have short root systems. Do be mindful – if you apply too much, you will get all leaf, no berries, and that’s just not fun! There are remedies, but some take a long time, others are dangerous to your soil. Better to add more Nitrogen later if needed. Be sure the soil drains well. Soggy soil makes for fruit and roots that rot. If your garden tends to hold water, mix 6 inches of compost into the soil to create a raised bed. Raised beds work well near cooler coastal areas.
Here’s the word on sidedressing from a grower: Fertilizer [like manures] should be applied at least three times each year; apply the first time when new growth starts (late January or early February, or early April), the second in mid-May and final application in mid-July to mid-September. Nitrogen applications should be heaviest in autumn to encourage the production of large crowns, and lowest in spring as nitrogen has adverse effects on fruit quality. Avoid heavy nitrogen applications just before or during the heavy fruiting period. [Remember, you want fruit not just leaves!]
Use row covers or wire mesh (aviary or hardware cloth) to protect from birds; use Sluggo or the like for slugs and snails. Misshapen berries, called Cat-Faced, are due to poor pollination. Plant year round flowering plants to bring bees and other beneficial insects. Don’t tug on your berries, funky leaves, or runners to remove them; instead, pinch through the stem so you don’t pull up your plant.
Commercial growers replace their plants each year. FOR THE BIGGEST AND MOST ABUNDANT STRAWBERRIES, REPLACE YOUR PLANTS EACH YEAR…