Strawberries are a quintessential summer fruit. We love to grow them recommend them as one of the first varieties of fruit ready in the spring. They are relatively easy to grow, kid friendly (though also animal/bird friendly too), and are perennial so you don’t have to buy new plants every year. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right varietals and get the best results.
There are three main categories of strawberries. The first, June-bearing strawberries, produce one large flush of berries in June and are done producing for the season. The second, everbearing strawberries, can produce year round though typically produce best in spring and fall when day lengths are approximately 12 hours long. The third type, day-neutral strawberries, produce their berries evenly throughout the growing season, though not in a large flush like the June-bearing varieties.
Each category of strawberries advantages and you’ll want to choose one or more varieties depending on how much space you have for your strawberry patch and how you like to eat them. For strawberry lovers, we recommend a couple types of June-bearing strawberries to enjoy some of the earliest fruits of the season. This can be supplemented with some day-neutral plants as well to enjoy some berries throughout the season. Another person may prefer to stick with primarily everbearing strawberries depending on their work schedule or other varieties in the garden.
Strawberry patches need active management on a yearly basis. For June-bearing varieties, this is typically done in the summer after the last berry is harvested where the plants are thinned, the patch is amended with organic matter or fertilizer, and the plants thinned to allow new runner plants to grow and develop. The University of Maine has a good video on how to renovate an old strawberry bed and keep existing beds producing year after year.
For everbearing and day-neutral strawberries, the beds should be amended with organic matter or fertilizer in the spring or early summer. Avoid fertilizing in the fall as this will encourage new tender growth that will not be as hardy when the cold winter weather comes.
Strawberries need regular watering, and a mulched path around the beds will help to minimize slugs and other insects who want to eat your berries as much as you do. Most strawberry patches typically need to be rotated to a new spot every 5 or so years.