Strawberries Part I – Transplanting and Early Care
Site and Soil
Any soil that grows good garden crops will also grow an abundance of strawberries. It may be sandy or even heavy clay. Sandy loam is ideal. Good moisture and drainage is important. Plenty of organic matter in the soil is good for holding moisture. The best berry production requires full sun for at least 8 hours a day.
Proper Nutrition for Strawberries
Before planting, work well rotted compost or manure into the soil. These are the best materials for good berry growth. Approximately 4 weeks after transplanting, apply a balanced fertilizer. Then stop! Over-fertilization encourages overgrowth of leaves and doesn’t help berry production that much.
Sprinkle granule fertilizer around the base of the plant without getting it on the leaves. Do not apply fertilizer when the leaves are wet. For established strawberry beds, do not apply fertilizer during the spring on fruiting beds. Fertilize in the late summer (August or September) prior to next year’s harvest, because fruit beds for spring develop in the fall.
When to Plant
Early spring is the best time to transplant strawberries. Go to your local greenhouse, buy several varieties, and transplant early. Fall planting is not recommended.
Expect two to three years of good berry production with a well-planted and tended strawberry patch. After that, if yields become smaller, your patch should be replaced with new plants and you should change the location. Diseases and insect populations can build up at a site, and changing the location reduces problems.
How to Plant
Plant strawberries 18 inches apart in rows three feet apart. Much of your success in growing berries depends upon how you handle your plants. They should be transplanted promptly when you bring them home from the greenhouse. Do not let them dry out.
Dig a deep enough hole so the roots can go straight down. Soil should be firmly pressed against the roots with the crown of the plant just at the soil’s surface with no roots above ground. If the crown of the plant is covered with soil, it will die. Be sure the root ball is very moist before planting. Always water plants well prior to planting and again after transplanting. Do not fertilize at this time.
Care for Strawberry Plants
Shortly after the strawberries are planted they will produce blossoms, which should be removed. This improves plant growth.
Some cultivation and a light hoeing may be necessary to control weeds. Remember to keep strawberry beds moist. Apply a thin layer of fresh straw mulch (1 to 2 inches deep).