Strawberries are easy to grow in the home garden with good yields if planted in the right place. For strawberries, “the right place” includes several criteria so pick the site carefully to maximize fruit production and reduce work. Light, water and soil are the most important factors for a successful crop and meeting the needs of strawberries is not difficult.

When selecting a site for a strawberry patch consider the following:

1. Light:
Strawberries like full sun for best yields but will grow and produce reduced amounts of berries in light shade.

2. Exposure:
A southern exposure will encourage earlier blooming and earlier fruit. This can cause problems, however, if the area is prone to late spring frosts that will damage flowers and therefore reduce yields.

3. Soil Drainage:
The shallow roots of strawberries thrive in sandy loam with good drainage. Heavy clay soils that don’t drain well restrict root growth and encourage fungal diseases. If you have a clay soil amend it with plenty of organic matter such as leaves, shopped straw, pine bark mulch, well rotted manure or rotted sawdust. Alternatively, make raised beds, 6-9” high and 15” wide.

4. Soil pH:
The soil pH should be between 6.0 and 6.5. Add lime, if too acid, or ammonium phosphate, if too alkaline.

5. Soil-Previous Use:
Avoid areas where strawberries, potatoes, peppers, or eggplants have been planted in the last 5 years. These plants harbor verticillium wilt, a fungal disease that attacks strawberries. Also avoid areas that have been planted in sod as they may harbor grubs and weevils that like to feast on strawberry roots.

6. Water:
Strawberries have shallow root systems as mentioned avove and will need to be irrigated during times of drought. Locate the strawberry patch near a water supply so that you can give them an inch of water a week when needed.

Don’t have space for a strawberry patch? Try a container. Strawberries can successfully be grown in container such as a strawberry pyramid where you can easily tailor the soil, light, and water to meet their needs.

Vegetable Gardening pointer

By Karen

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