Monday, May 9, 2011

Planting Strawberries

I ordered 100 strawberry plants through a seed catalog, and they are here.

Strawberries are perennial, which means they live through the winter and come back every year to produce more delicious berries for you to eat.
Strawberries are what I like to call a 'beginners berry'. They are very easy to plant and maintain, and you don't need to wait years, like a fruit tree, to get results.

The first step is ground prep. Choose a place that will get full sun. This means at least 6 hours. A place that is well drained is best. Strawberries need to be moist but not drowning.

I used a shovel and removed all the sod. Shake the extra dirt off the grass hunks and feed them to your pigs. Pick out all the broken grass roots you see, as they will re-sprout and cause you to say angry things later when you have to pull them again.

I heaped the soil towards the middle, then spread it out with a rake, resulting in a sort of raised bed with no sides. This allows the soil to warm up a bit faster and gives a little more room for the roots. Eventually it will pack down, but as you add mulch over time, it will build up. Never step on your prepared soil!

Strawberries are shipped in an aerated plastic bag in bundles of 25. Remove them from the bag, remove the rubber band and pull the roots apart. Depending on how long they have been in the bag, some may have very long roots and you might see new rootlets growing.

If the roots are super long, cut them with scissors to 4-6 inches long.  Dig a hole with your hand trowel about 6 inches deep and a few inches wide. Put the plant in the hole with the roots down, but spread them out a little. Firmly pack the dirt around the roots. Strawberries are kind of funny about the depth at which they are planted. If you plant them too deep, they will rot. If you plant them too shallow, they might dry out and die. You have to plant with the crown just above the dirt. 

If I had to choose, I would rather accidentally plant too shallow rather than too deep. The bags usually have directions and a picture printed on the side. The bag says plant them in rows 3 feet apart and plants 18 inches apart. I think that is too much room and I never plant that spacey. The reasoning behind that is the plants will throw off runners to make new plants. The runners will fill in the spaces between the plants. I prefer to plant them closer together, then when they grow runners, I cut them off and plant them where I want them. 

So after your plants are all in the ground, mulch them with old hay, or cured compost. Don't use bark, sawdust, or grass clippings. Grass clippings mat and get gooey, sawdust leaches nitrogen out of the soil and bark is too hard. Keep them well watered for the first 10 days or so and water weekly if there is no rain.  The directions say pick off all the blooms the first year to give them a chance to develop their root systems for a better harvest next year. I pick off blooms through July, then let them get a few berries towards the end of the summer. Why go through all that work for nothing? I want a least a few for my time.  It won't really hurt them.

No comments:

Post a Comment