The Green Thumb Almanac

YOUR ONLINE GARDENING INFORMATION CENTER

Fruits and Berries

A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money.  Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.  ~P.J. O'Rourke

 

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  • Strawberries

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Strawberries

A delicious red-ripe strawberry - a treat no one can pass up!  With their green serrated leaves, white-flowers and bright red fruit they are an attractive and edible addition to the garden.  Careful attention to cultural requirements will reward the attentive gardener with loads of fresh fruit!
 
Strawberries can be classified into three groups based on when they bear fruit.  These are June-bearing, everbearing and day neutral varieties.

June-bearing

Also known as spring bearing these types of strawberries produce one crop a year usually from mid-May to mid-June, depending upon the variety.  June bearers produce larger fruit and send out many runners.  Since they produce all at once they are good for making pies and jams.  Some good June-bearing varieties are:

 

'Allstar'* - large fruit, very adaptable

'Annapolis' - large fruit

'Delmarvel' - large fruit, disease resistant

'Earliglow'* - medium, good-quality fruit, disease resistant, very adaptable

'Honeoye' - large fruit, very adaptable

'Guardian'* - good quality fruit, disease resistant,

'Kent' - large fruit

'Jewel' - large fruit, very adaptable

'Redchief'* - very good fruit, freezes well

'Sequoia'* - large fruit, abundant runners

'Surecrop'* - parent of 'Guardian,' freezes well

Everbearing

Everbearers produce three crops of strawberries during the year in spring, summer and fall.  Their fruits are smaller than June-bearers and they do not produce many runners.  They are good for planting in strawberry pots and hanging baskets.  They are also great for snacking since they produce a few fruits over a long period of time.  Some good Everbearers are:

 

'Eversweet'* - large, sweet fruit, tolerant of high temperatures and high humidity

'Ogallala'* - good fruit production, very good quality

'Ozark Beauty'* - very good fruit quality, resistant to leaf spot, leaf scorch

'Quinalt'* - good runner production, large berry size, disease resistant

Day Neutral

Day Neutral strawberries produce fruit throughout the growing season regardless of day length.  They may not produce fruit in temperatures above 85 degrees F., and may not be the best choice for gardens in the heartland.  Since they (and Everbearers) produce just a few runners they are good for small gardens, terraces, barrels and pyramids and can be used as edging plants or as a groundcover.  Two good day neutral varieties are:

 

'Tristar'* - medium size fruit, disease resistant, very adaptable

'Tribute' - medium size fruit, disease resistant, very adaptable

*well adapted for Kansas

Planting & Care of Your Strawberries

 

The best site for your strawberry bed is one that is sunny and well-drained.  Wet soil with poor drainage will cause many disease problems.  Add plentiful amounts of organic matter to the bed before planting.  Since frost and cold air can damage strawberry blossoms it is recommended to plant strawberries in raised beds.  The best time to plant is in early spring, usually March or April, as soon as the ground can be worked.  If your soil is wet wait a few days for it to dry out.  Early spring planting gives the plants time to get established before the heat of summer arrives.

Planting depth is VERY important!  Plants should be set into the ground so that the roots are totally covered.  However, do not plant them so deep as to bury the crown of the plant as this will cause sure death!  The recommended spacing is 18 - 30 inches between plants.  Plants may be planted in rows 3 1/2' to 4' apart.  Removing runners will result in larger plants and berries, higher yields and less disease.  During the first season it is best to remove the blossoms to encourage root and runner development.  Remove the blossoms of everbearers and day-neutral varieties until the end of June and then let them set fruit for a late season harvest.
Fertilize your strawberries about 5-6 weeks after planting with a 5-10-5 granular fertilizer.  Another application can be made in early fall since strawberries produce the flower buds for next years crop at that time.  Do not over fertilize.  Too much fertilizer will cause excessive leaf growth and reduce yields.  Make sure your strawberries receive at least 1" of water per week and mulch to reduce weed growth and to conserve moisture.  A 3-inch layer of straw mulch can be placed over the bed in fall before the first hard frost.  Then in early spring remove the straw from over the plants.
 
Pests of strawberries include slugs, birds and other animals who love strawberries too!  Use of slug bait will help to control the slugs and the use of bird netting will help to protect the fruit from animals.  Before using any weed killer, pre-emergent or insecticide read the label carefully to make sure those products are safe for use in strawberry beds.  Root rot can be a problem for which there is no control.  The best practice would be to move the strawberry bed and make sure you plant only healthy plants.

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