Much sweeter than strawberries you purchase at the grocery store, homegrown strawberries are a flavorful treat that offer up produce throughout the season. The key is to plant multiple varieties. June-bearing plants produce one large crop of berries in June. Everbearing types produce two crops per season: summer and fall. New varieties of the everbearing type truly produce berries in spring, summer, and fall. Finally, day-neutral plants produce berries any time temperatures are between 35 degrees F and 85 degrees F. Instead of a large crop in June or July, you pick fruit from summer to fall.
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Spring, Summer, Fall
Select a site that offers full sun and good drainage and air circulation.
Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Space your rows 4 feet apart. Trim the roots of the new plants to no more than 6 inches long. Soak the roots in water for about an hour before planting. Set the plants 18 inches apart in the rows. Dig holes in the ground deep enough so the roots are covered but the crown isn’t buried. Pack the soil against the roots.
In spring of the first year, pick off blossoms to prevent fruiting and encourage production of healthy daughter plants. In late spring, train daughter plants to take root in a 9-by-9-inch spaced row system. In late fall, after a few freezes, mulch with 5 to 6 inches of straw or 4 to 5 inches of pine needles.
During the second year, in late spring, remove the mulch gradually in spring, but protect blossoms from late frost with covers of mulch, if needed. Provide 1 inch of water per week while the fruit is developing, through harvest. Cover the patch with tobacco cloth or strawberry netting to keep birds out. After harvest, till the plants under, plant a cover crop, and prepare the bed for new plants next spring.
Begin harvesting most types of berries the year after planting — about 14 months from planting in northern zones and 9 months in the south. Highest yield will come from the youngest plants.