Growing Strawberries in Your New England Garden is Easy and Fun - A Great Project for the Whole Family
If you've never had fresh strawberries from the garden, you are definitely missing out on one of the most delicious things gardeners can grow in their gardens with little to no care.
Plant Your Strawberries in early to mid Spring for a Crop This June
Strawberries are best purchased as small plants from either the internet or a local garden center. They are generally sold in packs of about 10. For a family of four, we suggest planting about 20-30 plants to have enough for cereal and dessert toppings! Be aware there are two main types, traditional and everbearing. Get the traditional types and you will have better strawberries - the everbearing varieties might give you a small second crop but in our opinion, its not worth it. The traditional strawberries are bigger and juicier and ripen at the proper time for the best color and flavor.
NOTE: Strawberries love the sunshine, so plant them (as with most other fruits and vegetables) in a place that gets a minimum of 6-8 hours of sun a day. They are fairly drought-tolerant once established, but its a good idea to keep them watered for the first month or so until their roots take hold in the soil.
The Strawberry's Biggest Enemy is Mold
Plant your strawberries about 6 inches apart in rows, burying them so that the new growth, if any, is showing above the soil. It is really important to mulch around them, preferably with straw. This keeps the berries from touching the ground and rotting - strawberries from home gardens are MUCH softer and sweeter than those in the grocery stores and can bruise very easily.
Pick Your Berries Daily Once They Start Ripening
The berries can go from whitish green to red in just a couple of warm days so make sure you check your strawberry patch at least every other day. You should get about a 2 to 3 week supply of fresh berries lasting until about the first week in July. After that, just manage the runners to stay within the confines of your rows and leave the rest to mother nature.
Strawberries Are Perennials - They Come Up Year After Year
Despite this fact, its important to note that over time, strawberry plants lose their punch and after a few years, will stop bearing fruit and eventually die off. The good news is that strawberries send out what are called "runners" from their plants. These are essentially long flexible stems with little strawberry plants at the end. These "runners" will extend out from the main plant, putting down roots about a foot away from the plant. This process will start a new plant and replace the original older plant once it stops fruiting. Sometimes these runners can have 2 or 3 plants on them, all about a foot apart. If you train them properly along the strawberry row rather than letting them run wild through the garden, they will increase your supply of strawberry plants and ensure a steady supply of strawberries for many years to come.
Strawberries and Winter Protection
If you live in an extremely cold area during the winter, just cover the strawberry plants with the straw or mulch for extra protection. Don't worry, next spring you'll see them pop right through the mulch, ready to supply you and your family with another season of delicious berries.