A Complete Guide: How To Grow Strawberries and 10 Best Strawberry Recipes
When you think of warm summer days and eating out in your garden, strawberries are perhaps one of the first fruits that spring to mind.
If you have always wanted to grow this juicy, succulent fruit, you’ve come to the right place.
With this complete guide on how to grow strawberries, you can arm yourself with enough knowledge to have a bountiful supply of bright red berries throughout the growing season.
For anyone already growing strawberries, there’s still plenty of valuable information about all aspects of this superfruit from planting through to harvest and storage.
We’ll also present 10 best strawberry recipes for you so that you can put all your hard work to good use in the kitchen!
Here’s a quick snapshot of what we’ll cover in this guide:
1) How Are Strawberries Good For Health?
Strawberries are well known as a super fruit dripping with health benefits.
We will look here at some of the many ways in which these tasty berries can help your body in more ways than simply tasting delicious.
In no particular order, strawberries can…
- Work to combat various cardiovascular diseases
- Enhance brain function
- Boost the immune system
- Relieve high blood pressure
- Naturally fight against some forms of cancer occurring
- Benefit diabetics
We’ll take a quick glance now at their general nutritional value in a little more detail.
1.1 Nutritional Value
Source: Organic Facts
One of the key selling points of strawberries in terms of health is how rich they are in antioxidants. In a study of American foods, strawberries ranked 27 out of 50 foods in terms of antioxidant properties. When this was reduced to fruits only, strawberries came in at number 4.
The antioxidants mean that this fruit, if consumed frequently, will give your immune system a helping hand, take the sting out of signs of aging and can also help to stave off the onset of some types of cancer.
Strawberries are also stuffed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients crucial for overall health. What, exactly do they contain?
- Vitamin C
1.2.1 Strawberries For The Heart
Strawberries are packed with fiber and folate while containing no fats. With elevated levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, they help to very efficiently reduce cholesterol in your vessels and arteries.
There’s also some vitamin B present and this will invigorate your cardiac muscles promoting better heart function.
If you want a heart-pack second to none, don’t stint on the strawberries!
1.2.2 Brain Function and Strawberries
Memory and motor control progressively worsen as you age. This aging, whether natural or premature, is caused largely by free radicals. The activity of these free radicals causes the brain to degenerate and the nerves to weaken.
Source: Miracle Water
The vitamin C in strawberries helps to neutralize the effect of these dangerous agents. The iodine and potassium they contain also improves cognitive function and blood flow to the brain. Concentration and recall can benefit, too.
Strawberries are thought of as brain food for good reason!
1.2.3 Immune System
Once again, it’s vitamin C which goes some way to strengthening your body’s immune system.
This precious vitamin also stimulates the way white blood cells work. These cells protect you against toxins or foreign bodies.
Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant. The body produces free radicals which can be a factor in many serious health issues from heart disease through to some types of cancer. With over 150% of your vitamin C RDA in a single serving, give your immune system a treat as well as your taste buds.
1.2.4 Blood Pressure and How Strawberries Help
Sodium and other elements can cause high blood pressure. The potassium and magnesium content of strawberries mean they work brilliantly to lower your BP.
Say goodbye to hypertension and ease blood flow with a healthy portion of strawberries on a regular basis.
1.2.5 Strawberries and Cancer
Strawberries are bursting with flavonoids. These flavonoids include vitamin C, kaempferol, quercetin, folate and anthocyanins.
These have significant anticarcinogenic properties and team up to stave off certain cancers and tumors.
Take some strawberries on board each day and slash the chance of lethal cancer cells from metastasizing.
If you suffer from diabetes, you’ll want to eat a low glycemic diet. Strawberries score below 40 on the glycemic index (GI) meaning that, unlike many fruits, you’re safe eating these.
Low in carbs and assisting with keeping your blood sugar levels in check, this super fruit also has fructose which needs no insulin in order to be metabolized.
Strawberries also soothe the stomach, help with both arthritis and gout, ward off aging and protect your eyes.
2) Types and Recommended Varieties of Strawberries
When it comes to choosing the best strawberries to add to your garden, it can seem a bewildering state of affairs.
Source: Japanese Info
You have a vast range of different varieties at your disposal but first it pays to double down on the 3 main types of strawberry.
- Day Neutral Plants
- Everbearing Plants
- June Bearing Plants
We will look at these cultivars or types and draw your attention to the best varieties in each category.
After that, we’ll explore some other notable varieties and some key points to consider when choosing the best strawberries for your needs.
Types of Strawberries with Suggested Varieties
2.1 Day Neutral Strawberries
In the world of strawberries, day neutral are a fairly new entry first developed in the 1960s.
When it comes to setting flower buds, this type of strawberry is not dependent on the length of the day. By contrast, everbearing strawberries demand long days to kickstart buds while June bearing need short days.
Day neutrals will yield fruit throughout the full growing season weather conditions permitting. This equates to temperatures below 90F.
There are 3 peak periods of fruiting with day neutrals. These normally fall in June, the middle of July and then late August meaning your crop can be spread out perfectly.
- Albion: With large and symmetrical berries, Albions have a deep, intense red coloring both inside and out. The fruit yielded is firm and great for both fresh use and canning
- Seascape: If you’re looking for reliable and consistently large crops of fruit, give Seascape a shot. The large berries are sweet and juicy. While they are great eaten fresh, they are particularly suitable for preserves or jellies
- Tribute: Tribute strawberries deliver medium berries that are sweet with a deep flavor. They are very vigorous and highly resistant to disease
2.2 Everbearing Strawberries
The name of this type of strawberry is misleading. You will certainly not get a substantial crop for the duration of the growing season with everbearing fruit.
More realistically, you’ll get 2 or 3 harvests in spring/early summer then towards the end of summer/beginning of fall.
If the conditions are in your favor, you might also manage a small dribble of fruit in between these times.
- Fort Laramie: While neither vigorous nor overly productive, Fort Laramie compensates with extremely sweet berries. Hardy, disease-resistant and able to cope with cold winters, this type of strawberry is versatile and rewarding to grow
- Ozark Beauty: This brisk grower will give you bright red, medium-sized fruit. It will be slightly soft and pretty sweet. It’s a cold hardy variety and a banker as a first year-fruiter
- Quinault: Among the most popular everbearing varieties, Quinault strawberries are medium-sized and incredibly sweet. The soft fruit is not ideal for freezing. You’ll enjoy 3 primary harvests in spring, summer and fall
2.3 June Bearing Strawberries
With this cultivar, you will only get one harvest each year but it should be a bumper one!
Source: Foodies Channel
Again, the name can be deceptive. The plants might produce at different times depending on where in the world you are.
These types of strawberries are sometimes known as short day strawberries. They need shorter days so that the flower buds will start developing in time for cropping the following spring.
- Chandler: The berries will come large and early. If you let them ripen fully, the flavor really is first-rate. Chandler strawberries are very popular with commercial growers
- Earliglow: Earliglow strawberries are great at warding off diseases. Although the berries come out a little on the small side, you’ll be rewarded with outstanding flavor and a highly productive plant
- Hood: If you want to eat fresh strawberries, Hood makes a smart choice. They are not so great for freezing so bear this in mind. This type produces early and they are incredibly resistant to disease
2.4 Some Other Recommended Varieties
Here are some other superb varieties that you might want to think about.
- Alice AGM: Midsummer cultivar. Sweet and juicy, highly disease-resistant
- Aromel AGM: A very tasty perpetual variety
- Cambridge Favorite AGM: Traditional mid-season favorite with juicy texture and delicious taste. Can run into snags with diseases
- Elsanta: The most commonly grown commercial cultivar. The flavor of this bright red fruit is divine. Like Cambridge Favorite, though, you might suffer some issues with diseases
- Florence: This late summer strawberry is not prone to disease and tastes sublime
- Pegasus AGM: A very reliable mid-season cropper, this cultivar resists most diseases including verticillium wilt and mildew
2.5 What To Think About When Choosing Strawberries
There are a few essential factors to think about if you want to get the best strawberries for your personal requirements…
Source: The Big Strawberry
If you are looking for big berries then June bearing plants are probably your best bet.
Opt for day neutral or everbearing if size is not your overriding concern.
When it comes to flavor, you are advised to think about the variety rather than type.
Growing Space Needed
June bearing strawberries are generally the most vigorous. They kick out lots of runners which can take root as new plants if not removed.
If you have limited space, give these a swerve.
Day neutral and everbearing varieties are only likely to offer extended production in temperatures less than 90F.
Unless you have mild summers, reduce your expectations with these varieties.
The most productive strawberries are June bearing plants.
Think about the above points and make sure you get the type and variety of strawberry that suits your own personal taste.
You don’t need to choose just one!
3) Planting Strawberries
Once you have decided upon the best type and variety of strawberries, it’s time to get to work in the garden and plant them.
You don’t need much by the way of expensive garden tools but you do need to know what you’re doing so take the time to inform yourself and read on…
Before we outline what to do, a couple of quick videos that we highly recommend you check out.
For those of you who prefer to learn by watching rather than reading, finding the best videos can be an overwhelming task.
This video is a very short and sweet guide to planting.
It’s always good to have a couple of takes on a subject so this video approaches the same subject of planting strawberries and is also only a couple of minutes long.
3.1 When To Grow Strawberries
Determining the best time to plant strawberries is pretty straightforward.
If you plant them any time from late spring to the beginning of summer, they will bear fruit about two months after planting.
Don’t be concerned at the appearance of the runners. They resemble small roots with very few leaves. This is normal.
3.2 How To Plant Strawberries
First, a step-by-step summary of general planting…
1. Look for somewhere that’s warm with plenty of sun. Strawberries thrive on direct sunlight and they don’t need shade. A little wind is fine but they should always be sheltered from the prevailing wind
Source: Dr Max Lingo
2. Make sure you turn the soil over thoroughly. Eliminate all weeds. Add plenty of compost
Source: Sustainable NoVA
3. Take the plant out of the container. After soaking the root ball for a couple of hours, you’re good to go
4. Dig a hole in your soil and pop the strawberry plant in. Keep the crown of the plant up above the soil line
Source: Strawberry Plants
5. Press the soil all around the base of your plant
Source: Tui Garden
6. Repeat as necessary
Planting can take so many forms that you are best to watch plenty of videos, think about how you want to go about it, be that soil or containers, and take it from there.
There are a huge number of systems used across the world for raising strawberries commercially. The two most popular are:
- Matted Row System
- Hill System
Each of these systems needs different cultivation techniques and garden tools as well as different planting densities.
Matted Row System
Source: Strawberry Plants
With matted row production, the mother and daughter are allowed to grow side by side.
Plants are then trained so that they grow in narrow rows.
Set your plants between 15 and 25 inches apart. The rows should be 36 to 42 inches apart. Runners will fill in the space between plants until a 14 to 18 inch row is created.
The production cycle is two years. Spacing is not so dense as with the hill system. With the matted row system, you should have around 40,000 plants per hectare.
This method is not as intensive and produces lower yields than the hill system but it’s also cheaper and very widely used, especially in cooler climates.
Source: Strawberry Plants
With the hill system – also known as plasticulture – the crowns are used to produce fruit. Runners are removed so that the plant will focus purely on production.
Plants are transplanted and placed in raised beds then covered with plastic. Raised bed production improves soil drainage.
Using this system, the plants are 10 to 18 inches apart. A runner is allowed to start a new plant between the two mothers. This will keep the plants 8 inches apart.
They are planted quite densely – anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 plants per hectare – which leads to predictably high yields.
4) Taking Care of Strawberries
Having got your strawberries up and running, taking care of them well is essential.
Fertilizing your strawberries correctly can mean the difference between a mediocre harvest and a really bountiful one.
It’s a smart move to ascertain that the soil where you will plant your strawberries will get adequate sun and that it will drain nicely.
Fertilize this year before planting.
Source: My Little Garden In Japan
Use 1 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 100 square feet of space. This should contain equal parts potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen. Work it 5 to 8 inches into your soil.
If you provide a rich and fertile environment for your strawberry plants right from the get-go, they’ll have all the nutrients they could hope for from the moment they touch the soil.
Any time during the first year your strawberries look green or show signs of weakening, pop 1.5 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer for every 100 square feet alongside the plants.
In late August, add the same amount of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Again, set this against the plants.
You should use a hose to spray your fertilizer. By concentrating on the soil, the roots will absorb it effectively.
Years 2 and 3
You will generally get three years growing strawberries in the same spot. After this, leaf diseases tend to occur.
In the lead-up to the second and third growing seasons, take off the foliage and use this as a natural fertilizer by mixing it into the soil.
A pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer for each 100 square feet should follow.
When you move to a new location, repeat the above cycle.
Commercial fertilizers work well with strawberry plants.
You can also use organic alternatives.
Bonemeal is an excellent slow-release phosphorous fertilizer tailor-made for strawberries. Steam it first for best results.
Source: Patio of Pots
Dried blood will deliver an immediate jolt of nitrogen.
Crushed eggshells can be introduced as a way of deterring slugs and snails while also releasing valuable calcium.
Source: Love To Know
Water your strawberries regularly but with a light touch. You can increase the frequency when the weather gets particularly hot and dry.
When you water, focus on the base of your plants rather than the leaves and fruits. This will help to prevent disease. Drip lines, direct-point watering or drip tape all safeguard against splashing the leaves and fruits.
The best time to water is in the morning so all the surface water will be gone by the evening.
Strawberries have quite shallow root systems meaning they do not flourish if there are weeds around. Take action and get rid of these as soon as possible.
- Pull out weeds by hand whenever you see them. Monitor your strawberry patch daily as weeds often spring up overnight
- Use a trowel to dig up any weeds that are deep-rooted
- Use herbicides with great care and only if you are convinced they won’t touch the plant or the soil near the plant’s roots. Check that it is appropriate for use on foods
- Add some mulch to your strawberry patch. Make this 2 inches thick. Organic mulch like wood chippings is great as it will break down and add nutrients to the soil. Wheat and oat are also good options. Don’t use rock mulch as this can cause the leaves to burn when heat is reflected
For more information on How to kill chickweed in your garden, please check my friend's article here.
pH measurements indicate acidity and alkalinity. 7 is neutral while smaller numbers indicate acidity.
Strawberries need soil of between 5.5 and 6.5 pH.
Source: Ultimate Finish
You can easily check your soil using cheap soil testing kits.
If you find that your soil is too alkaline, this can be easily acidified by adding sulfur, ammonium sulfate or ferrous sulfate six months before the planting season.
5) Top Mistakes To Avoid With Strawberries
Gardening is not an exact science but there are always common mistakes that can be quite easily avoided.
We will investigate now some of the most frequent slip-ups with strawberries that can be easily prevented.
5.1 Watch Out For Contamination
When you are considering where to plant your strawberries, make sure to avoid soil where certain other crops have previously been planted.
Enemies of strawberries include:
The above crops can actually foster soil pathogens. These can adversely affect the new crop so tread with caution.
5.2 Get It Right When Planting
It pays to get things right straight off the bat and, having sidestepped choosing the wrong location, it’s key that you take sensible steps when planting.
If you study the base of the plant, you’ll see a swollen area with the roots and leaves. This is called the crown.
Source: Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
When you plant, the center of the crown should be at the level of the soil. This will mean that half of the crown is up above the soil and the other half below. The roots should be nicely spread out, the upper roots under the surface of the soil.
Once you have done this, be sure to recheck when you have watered and the soil has settled.
Plant too deep and the crown is liable to rot. Make it too shallow and the roots will dry up, wither and die.
5.3 Go Easy On The Water
It can be tempting to go over the top when watering but with strawberries this will be counterproductive, even damaging.
If you are heavy-handed with the water then the crown and root are likely to rot. This is made even worse if the crown is too deep – see the warning above – or you suffer from poor drainage in your garden.
Less is more. Aim for reasonably moist rather than wet soil.
5.4 Watch For Viruses
When it comes to strawberries, don’t cut corners and try using starts from old plants. There’s every chance that they could have become infected with viruses.
The bad news is that you can’t detect this by eye. You’ll only find out when the fruit production fails to deliver.
Buy new plants and make absolutely sure that they are certified as virus free. It would be a shame to waste all your time and effort just to save a few cents.
6) Pests and Diseases: Keep Your Strawberries Safe
Once you are up and running, it pays to remain very vigilant with your strawberries.
Sadly, these plants are prone to being threatened by a diverse range of pests and diseases.
We will summarize some of the main bugbears.
From eating bugs, leaves and seedlings through to the fruit and vegetables, birds can be a menace for strawberry plants.
Pigeons are a particular nuisance.
You can use fleece or netting to stave off intruding birds to some extent.
Regular measures such as scarecrows and other devices designed to scare birds can sometimes work for a while but they become less effective quite quickly.
Horticultural-grade fleece or mesh is by far your best option.
Source: Garden Web
Strawberry plants are at risk from several nematodes…
- Root-Knot Nematodes
- Foliar Nematodes
- Stem Nematodes
- Free-Living Root Nematodes
- Root Cystenematodes
Subterranean caterpillars can attack your strawberry plants.
Source: Backyard Nature
Year round pests varying in size, they attack young plants under the surface feasting on their roots.
At night, they will prey on the parts of the plant above the ground.
You should be able to easily see them and remove them. Be vigilant.
The strawberry mite can suck the leaves of strawberry plants.
You’d need a magnifying glass to see them and they resemble tiny drops of water.
These mites cause the leaves to shrink and the growing point becomes a dull blue.
The short and stubby stems produced will not properly develop.
The two-spotted spider mite is the usual culprit when the leaves of your plant have yellow patches on the top.
Source: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture
If you spot a whitish deposit a little like talcum powder on the surface of your leaves, this is probably powdery mildew.
An attack of this will cause the leaves to stop growing properly then shrivel away.
- Solution: Make sure you keep the soil moist (but not too wet). Stick to cool places for growing. You can use either sulphur-based sprays or fish and plant oils
If you have sown your strawberries densely and notice some of the seedlings collapsing, it could be grey mold that’s to blame.
Damaged plants are normally affected but it can sometimes also afflict healthy strawberries.
Look out for a grey mold on the buds or leaves, fruit or flowers.
If you don’t take action, your plants might die.
- Solution: When you sow, do so thinly. Don’t plant where it’s too cool. Remove any plants with grey mold and dispose of them. Avoid overcrowding. Most fungicides will be ineffective
The adult weevil will eat away at the edges of leaves while the larvae feast on the roots.
An attack of weevils can kill a plant outright.
- Solution: Use Scotts or Provado Vine weed killer. Apply this directly to the compost
Fungal Leaf Spot
If you notice brown and purple spots on the leaves, this could be a sign of fungal leaf spot.
Check for accompanying yellow rings.
Monitor for any spreading of discoloration.
- Solution: Remove any leaves affected. Ventilate well
If your plants become wounded, they are at risk of being penetrated by this fungus.
The root neck will go a red-brown color.
Within a very short period, this can spread and kill the strawberry plant.
- Solution: Use good, healthy planting material to help prevent leathery rot
Wilt disease is also known as verticillium albo-atrum.
This is a vascular disease.
Fungi enter through the roots or the stolons.
Discolored leaves will go a dull kind of greenish-yellow.
Stunted growth can lead to small, dry fruits.
We will now move on towards the best way to harvest strawberries and also how to store them for best results.
7) Harvesting and Storing Strawberries
7.1 How To Harvest Strawberries
When all the hard work has been done and it’s time for harvest, there’s some good news…
Harvesting your crop of strawberries couldn’t be easier!
Source: How To Grow Foods
- Don’t squeeze ripe berries. Instead, use your thumbnail to pinch the stem
- Pick any ripe berries every 2 or 3 days. If any berries have green tips, leave them as they are not yet ready. Wait a day or two and the taste will be worth holding on for
- Make sure you clear all remnants of berries from the plants. Leaving them there will encourage rot
- Harvesting each variety will take at least a couple of weeks. If you have too many berries, you might need to think about storing them…
7.2 How To Store Strawberries
Strawberries are super-soft and delicate so you need to take care when storing them.
Don’t wash them in advance of using them. Strawberries absorb moisture and they will spoil more quickly if washed.
Leaving the stems intact will help to prolong the shelf life of your strawberries.
They say that one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. The same is true with strawberries. Remove any perished fruit immediately or it might damage the others.
If you plan to eat your bounty on the same day, simply keep them on the counter at room temperature.
For strawberries you want to eat over the following days, try the crisper drawer of your fridge. This will regulate humidity and keep your berries from drying out. Stash them in a half-closed plastic container. Paper towels are a great way to mop up surplus moisture. With this method of storage, they’ll last up to a week.
Freezing strawberries is also possible so you can enjoy a supply year-round. Take off the stems then freeze on some baking parchment until solid. Use a Ziploc bag or airtight container for best results.
Here’s a handy video to give you some pointers on storing your strawberries.
Source: PBS Org
8) Renovating Strawberries
Once you have your strawberries in full flow, you’ll want to renovate them by renewing or simply maintaining the beds.
- Day Neutral Beds: Replace after 3 years
- Everbearing and June Bearing Beds: Renew
Maintenance kicks in directly after the final strawberry harvest.
8.1 When Is Strawberry Harvest?
- Day Neutral and June Bearing Plants: These produce over a period of 2 or 3 weeks. Harvest falls anywhere from March to June depending on climate
- Everbearing Plants: Everbearing strawberries keep on producing throughout the summer. Crops can be distinct or continuous
8.2 Test Your Soil
Source: Soil Test
Check your soil when harvest is over following the guidelines set out above.
8.3 Thinning and Cutting
Once harvest is over, cut back all your plants to 2 inches in height.
Make sure you get rid of any weeds before renovation.
How To Thin Strawberries: Matted Row System
- For matted rows on the ground, just use a lawnmower to cut back your plants
- For matted rows in raised beds, cut by hand
- Narrow the rows by hoeing
- After this, yank out the least healthy plants. Aim for 5 strong plants per square foot
How To Thin Strawberries: Hill System
- Use garden scissors or shears to cut back the plants to 2 inches above their crowns
For both methods, rake away all leaves and compost them if the strawberries are free from disease.
Source: Gardening Know How
Pick your fertilizer according to the soil test you conducted.
After applying the fertilizer, check all the leaves and brush off any excess on the surface.
Water in nicely.
Have you been using organic matter as mulch? If so, turn it back into the soil or pop it on your compost pile. Take care not to damage any shallow roots.
Rotating your crops regularly is good gardening practice.
As outlined above, strawberries are particularly susceptible to Wilt’s Disease. Frequent rotation is one way to guard against this.
- Rotate your strawberries to a new location every 3 years
- Avoid planting them where cross-contamination could occur. This is where the solanaceous plants mentioned above have been previously planted
Follow these simple pointers and maintaining your strawberries need not cause you a headache.
9) The 10 Best Strawberry Recipes
Now that you have done all the hard work, it’s time to reap the rewards.
We present for you here 10 imaginative recipes with strawberries.
10) DIY Strawberries
We will round out our best guide to strawberries with a look at 4 different ways to do it yourself with this awesome summer fruit.
This incredible vertical strawberry garden will raise your strawberries nicely keeping them safe from pests and excess water.
You can also check out 6 other innovative ways to grow a stack of strawberries and create a powerful decorative piece for your garden at the same time.
If you grow strawberries in a tower, why not try using coconut coir as your growing medium?
Unlike soil, coir contains no pathogens. Coir has helpful fungi rather than potentially harmful ones.
Rich in trichoderma and lignin, coir helps you get the right balance of bacteria.
Coir retains water well and has a superb draining capacity. You’ll need to water your strawberries less often.
Why not give some coconut coir a shot?
Well, we hope you have enjoyed this walkthrough guide to the best strawberries.
Please bookmark this page for future reference. Our aim is to give you all you need to know about strawberries in one handy guide.
Whether you want to grow strawberries using a grow tent and digital ballast or out in your garden, you should have everything you need to know right here. Bookmark this page and come back to it for future reference.
Get in touch if you have any feedback and please feel free to share this article on your social media.
Now go and get yourself some strawberry ice cream and relax!
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