Have you ever looked at your backyard and thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to add a pond? I wish I had the time”. Well, look no further than these ideas right here! In this article, I’ll show you 60 easy pond ideas that you can get started on this weekend, regardless of your budget! Are you ready? Let’s dive right in!
Who says you can’t have nice things on a tight budget? As you can see below, there are plenty of pond options for you even if you don’t want to break the bank.
If you’re able to spend a little bit more money, you can start to make your backyard pond a bit bigger and a bit fancier.
If money is not a problem, there are no limits to what you can do to your backyard pond to turn your yard into your own personal oasis.
Hopefully, you will be able to draw some inspiration from all of the different pond ideas that this article presented you with. Regardless whether you are on a tight budget or don’t have to worry about a budget at all, there is no better time to start planning and installing your very own backyard pond then right now! So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get started!
Having a garden is both a relaxing hobby and a great source of fresh food, if you plant the right things. Sometimes we overlook simple plants like potatoes, even though they’re actually pretty easy to grow, and are a delicious source of nutrients. I want to help you understand everything you need to know about how to grow potatoes in your own home garden.
This is an all-inclusive guide that will deal with every aspect of potatoes, from the planting to harvesting, to get you started on the path to growing your own potatoes.
Potatoes aren’t just delicious. They’re also a source of valuable nutrients. When potatoes cooked in a clean, healthy way, they offer exception health benefits with few downsides. The problem is that we usually eat potatoes when they’ve been fried in oil or grease. This ruins the nutrients and mixes in a large number of unhealthy elements to the potato.
But, just because we normally cook potatoes in an unhealthy way doesn’t mean the potato itself isn’t a healthy food! When cooked and eaten correctly, potatoes are a valuable part of your diet, and they can help you in a number of surprisingly ways.
According to nutrients ratings, potatoes are a great source of high quality vitamin B6. This vitamin aids your body in creating neurotransmitters for nerve cells, and also helps to develop and maintain brain cells. The cells it creates are partially responsible for releasing serotonin and norepinephrine, both of which are mood hormones.
Potatoes also serve as a source of copper, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, pantothenic, and fiber. The type of fiber in potatoes is considered to be a very healthy fiber that’s useful in protecting your heart from disease and cancer.
Lastly, potatoes are full of small number of phytonutrients and antioxidants that will aid your body in fighting off free radicals. These include carotenoids, flavonoids, caffeic acid, and patatin.
So, what do all of these nutrients mean? How can potatoes actually have a positive impact on your health? I’ve touched on a few of these benefits already, but I want to go over them in a bit more detail. They do a few very positive things for your body, including the following:
- Lower Blood Pressure
Some of the smaller compounds found in potatoes are known to help lower blood pressure and regulate it. This is a more recent discovery that has helped to change the perception of potatoes.
- Build New Cells
The vitamin B6 that’s found in heavy concentrations in potatoes is responsible for building many new cells around the body. It’s used in almost every part of the body by amino acids and nucleic acids when cells and DNA are being formed. Without a healthy supply of vitamin B6, your body is not able to create new cells properly. This is the most significant benefit from potatoes!
- Improve Your Brain and Nervous System
That same vitamin B6 that helps build cells also is essential in creating amines, which are neurotransmitters in the brain and nervous system. B6 is a powerful component in forming these transmitters, making it a part of the process of mood swings and happiness. Neurotransmitters are partially responsible for putting serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and other happiness hormones into the body. Short version: potatoes help you to stay happy!
- Protect the Heart
B6 is at it again by helping to create methylation in the body, something that’s helpful in preventing cancer and heart disease. Methylation combats a negative molecule called homocysteine, which can break down the heart walls and blood vessels. Diets rich in vitamin B6 lead to better heart health, as long as you’re not ruining your diet with unhealthy foods in addition.
- Increased Athletic Performance
Lastly, the vitamin B6 in potatoes can improve your performance as an athlete, by helping to release the stores of sugar energy saved up as fat in the body. This leads to longer lasting energy when you really need it the most.
The first step to get you started on your way to growing potatoes is to decide which type of potatoes you want to grow. As it turns out, there are many different types of potatoes that you can plant in your garden, so you have a lot of options. Potato varieties are categorized by when they are ready for harvest. You can find them three categories: first early, second early, and maincrop.
These are the potatoes that will be harvested in the beginning of the summer months. The first early are the very first to be ready, and the second early will be ready a few weeks later. Main varieties of potatoes that fit into the first early category include:
Second early potatoes include:
These potatoes won’t all be ready at the same time, and you can plant multiple varieties to make sure you get a lot of fresh potatoes throughout the summer months.
These varieties of potatoes are always the last to be ready each summer. You can expect them to become ready much later than the first varieties. The main types include:
- Red Pontiac
- German Butterball
Other varieties of maincrop potatoes may exist, but these are the three most common types found in home gardens.
Which potato you choose isn’t always based off of when they will be ready for harvest. You may also want to choose the variety based on your cooking preferences. So, what potatoes are used for cooking and which are best for specific types of meals?
Starchier potatoes are better for frying and mashing, because they will have a fluffier shape and a much softer taste. The higher the levels of starch in a certain type of potato, the better it will be for recipes that require the potato to break down more. Starchy potatoes will lose their shape quickly if they are cut into cubes and used in stews or for similar recipes. Here are the main starchy potato varieties:
- German Butterball
For stews, sauces, and similar uses, waxy potatoes do a better job. Waxy potatoes maintain their shape even after they are cooked, so they make a great addition to boiled stews and the like. They don’t make very good fried chips or French fries, nor are they ideal for mashed potatoes, because of the way they keep their shape.
- Adirondack Red/Blue
- Purple Viking
Some potatoes are all-purpose potatoes that cook well into any recipe. They are usually between starchy and waxy, making them ideal for recipes that work with both types of potatoes.
- Yukon Gold
- Red Gold
- Red Pontiac
- Norland Red
New potatoes are the last type for cooking, although they are not a specific type of potato. In fact, new potatoes refer to any potato that you harvest while it’s still young and hasn’t had time to mature yet. The skin will be soft and the flesh will usually be waxy, not starchy.
Your choice of potato should be based mostly on what you plan to do with the potatoes and how you want to cook with them. Also, many people like to plan to have a few different varieties that will be harvested throughout the summer, instead of choosing one type and having a bulk harvest.
Most potatoes have similar care instructions, so this is not going to be part of the equation for you unless you choose a very unique variety that doesn’t usually grow in your climate. For the most part, if you live in a temperate zone, you should be able to grow nearly every type of potato.
Once you’ve chosen the type of potatoes you want to grow, it’s time to get ready for planting the seeds. The first step is to prepare the area you plan to grow in. You can’t plant until you have a place ready for your seeds.
Potatoes are not harvested until the summer, but you have to time your planting right to get the best yield and to have healthy plants. It’s recommended that you plant before the final frost of the season, but not too early. Once the potato sprouts emerge from the soil, they will be vulnerable to the frost. So, it’s plan to plant the potatoes no more than two weeks before the last frost is anticipated.
Don’t plant too late in the season. One the temperatures start to rise around 90 degrees during the summer, your plants will begin to wilt in the heat and won’t produce good fruits. The window of opportunity for planting potatoes is large, depending on the type you’re planting, but you need to make sure you stick to the parameters closely or your plants may die or produce poor yields.
You can use a 10 x 10 grow tent for potatoes if you want to plant earlier, but it’s not as easy to manage s using the plain outdoor ground.
The flesh of the potatoes that we eat is what’s called a tuber. It’s not the fruit of the plant, it’s actually part of the root system. Because of this, you need to have a nutrient-rich soil composition to get the best yield at the end of the season.
When it comes to preparing your garden soil, potatoes grow the best in loamy soil that’s loose and drains well. If water pools, it can increase the chances of diseases and rot. But, if the water drains too quickly like it does in sandy soil, you’ll have to water much more frequently to avoid draught behavior with the plants. pH levels in the soil should be between 5 and 5.5 for ideal growth and health.
If your soil has too much clay, you can loosen it and add some of the necessary nutrients by using compost. By working about 4 inches of compost into the dirt, you’ll end up with a much better soil mixture that will retain the right amount of water while offering a mix of organic materials for the tubers to grow freely. Garden beds with soft, loamy soil won’t need as much compost as clay soil.
Potatoes can also benefit from the right selection of fertilizers. The nutrients most needed for good growth are potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Look for 5-10-5 or 10-10-5 blends and add about 1 & 1/2 pounds for every 50 square feet. Mix it into the soil before you plant. You can use a good fertilizer spreader if you have a larger garden plot.
There are two special methods for growing potatoes that may be easier than planting them straight into the soil. The first method is the deep mulching method, which is also called the Stout method. For this method of planting, you’ll dig a long hole that’s about 4 – 8 inches deep. Plant your sprouting seed potatoes in the soil, and layer mulch over the top until the soil is even.
Although this is an easier method than the normal planting, it’s not always going to give good results. If you have great soil underneath the mulch, this method is going to work very well and give you a great crop. But, if your soil is poor and doesn’t have the nutrients that the potatoes need, it’s not going to work well and you may have a very bad crop.
Over time, the deep mulching method will help to create the perfect soil conditions for many types of plants, including potatoes. But, this takes years for the soil and mulch to mix together and make a rich growing medium. Don’t expect fantastic results your first year, unless you already have high quality soil underneath the mulch.
Another interesting method that can be used for potatoes is planting inside a grow bag. It’s common to be frustrated with when harvesting potatoes, because they may be a bit hard to fit under the ground. When a potato plant is healthy and planted in good soil, the roots will spread out and grow deep, creating a large network of edible tubers. You may not be able to dig them all out, because you may not find them all.
Grow bags help you keep all the potatoes together for easy harvesting, although they may sometimes impede the growth of the plants as well. Instead of planting potatoes in an open field or garden space, you’ll put your growing medium into a large sack. The sack can be buried to ground level or resting on the ground, whichever you prefer. You will then plant your seed potatoes in the sack, so that as the roots grow and develop, all the potatoes will be safely grown within a contained area.
Potato grow bags are popular because of how easy they may it when you’re harvesting. However, this is not a perfect method. It’s difficult to get a great mix of soil in a grow bag, and even more difficult to adjust that mix after it’s full. Plus, as I already mentioned, the roots have less room to spread out and grow underneath the ground, so the plant may not stay as healthy or grow as large as it would otherwise in an open garden.
Potato plants do drop seeds just like any other plant, but this is not how most people choose to grow their own potatoes. True potato seeds are available to buy in some seed shops. However, we are going to talk about growing potato plants from potatoes, because this is the preferred method for most people and is usually the simpler approach.
Seed potatoes are just regular potato tubers taken from any type of potato plant. If you use a potato tuber, it will grow into an exact genetic replica of the plant it was harvested from before. This is great when you get potatoes from a healthy plant that produces well, as it will mean you are more likely to have a good harvest also.
Seed potatoes are not quite the same as working with regular plant seeds. Before planting, it’s recommended that you begin sprouting the potatoes (also called chitting) inside. Pre-sprouting is mostly recommended if you’re planting before a frost or when the ground is still a bit too cool for planting. If it has already warmed up, the potatoes should sprout for themselves rather quickly in the ground.
To chit a potato for growing, you need to let it sit in a warm area indoors for around a week. Direct sunlight isn’t needed, but some brightness is necessary for strong sprouts. Keep the seed potatoes in a dry area as well, and avoid having too much moisture around them or they may develop mold or disease. Face the side with the most eyes upwards to encourage more sprout growth.
You’ll notice right away when sprouts start to form. Look for sturdy green sprouts, and scrape off any that look thin and pail, because these will not grow as well once planted. After the sprouts are starting to look healthy and larger, you can plant them when the ground is prepared. Before planting, it’s a good idea to rub off some of the weaker looking sprouts and only keep about four sturdy sprouts, so that the plant can focus its growth on a few stronger chutes.
Potatoes that have been chitted can be planted directly into the prepared ground. Lay them in the prepared holes and face the sprouts upwards before covering them with your selected growing medium. If you’ve chosen not to pre-sprout the potatoes, you can still plant them the same way. Face the side with the most eyes upwards to encourage easier growth.
If you are planting large potatoes, it’s a good idea to cut them into smaller pieces that have fewer eyes, to avoid too dense of growth in the garden. You can cut to leave at least 2 or 3 eyes on each piece, and plant each piece as a separate seed potato.
You know how to prepare the soil and how to plant the seed potatoes, but where should you actually put them? Give the plants enough room to grow deep and to spread out without interfering with each other’s nutrients too much. Tubers are large and take up a lot of room, so proper spacing is necessary to get high yields and healthy plants.
Most gardeners recommend planting potatoes in rows to keep track of them more easily. Each row should be 2 to 3 feet apart in the ground. This leaves enough room for the potatoes to grow unimpeded, for you to walk between rows easily, and for proper hilling (something I’ll talk more about later).
Within the rows, each seed potato should be placed between 1 and 2 feet apart. One foot is a little on the close side, so it’s better to shoot for around 18 inches or the full 2 feet. Planting too close together can lead to small tubers, because of a lack of nutrients and space to grow. Cover the planted seed potatoes in 4 to 6 inches of your chosen growing medium, and you have successfully started your potato garden!
Caring for potatoes is not exactly the same as caring for other garden plants. Since the edible part of the plant grows underground, you will have to take different steps to have successful potatoes than you would for vegetables or fruits. You’ll need to learn about hilling, watering, and composting.
Potato plants don’t need a lot of maintenance throughout their growth season, but hilling is the one thing you will have to do consistently if you want the best yield. Hilling is the process of bringing dirt around the green potato plant as it grows.
The first time you will hill your plants is when the sprouts emerge from the original planting dirt. It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s a good idea to bury the first green sprouts in up to four inches of dirt. Doing this can actually help to protect the plants further and help you get better tubers.
As the potatoes continue to grow, you’ll continue hilling every one to two weeks, depending on the growth speed. If plants are more than 4 to 6 inches tall, you should hill halfway up the stems. Hilling is a consistent practice that has to be done until harvest time, if you want the best potatoes as a result.
The importance of hilling is not to keep the green plant healthier, but to protect the tubers themselves from the sun. direct sunlight can cause green layers in potatoes, which ruin the flavor and are slightly toxic in some varieties. Tubers grow from the stems of the green plant, meaning some of them will inevitably grow near the surface of the dirt, and may be exposed to the sun directly. Hilling keeps these tubers safely buried, and has no major impact on the green plants themselves.
For hilling, it’s fine to draw the first from each side of the potato rows in order to get a good mound. This is another reason spacing your seeds right is vital to plant growth, as it will be very difficult to hill if your potatoes are too close together.
Potatoes that get watered frequently will usually give a larger yield of edible tubers. This does come with some conditions though, as potatoes are prone to rot if they are over-watered. The soil should never be water-logged.
Part of the importance of using loamy soil that drains well is that the water should not sit on the plants for too long. The tubers can begin rotting quickly or may succumb to fungal infections if too much water is left around the plants.
For the best results, water in the mornings and keep the soil moist, but not noticeably wet or soaked. The best time to water is when the flowers start to bloom on the plant because this is when the potato tubers will develop the most. If watered properly at this time, you’ll get a better crop. Once the plants are done flowering, it’s okay to cut down on watering again.
As you’re hilling your potato plants, you may want to help add some more nutrients to the soil to promote more tuber growth. It’s not a good idea to add fertilizer while the plants are already growing, because it might increase green growth and slow down tuber growth. Instead, you can add some organic compost to the normal soil.
This is going to help put more nutrients into the ground while also increasing useful water retention. Well-aged compost is better than fresh compost, because the materials will have had time to break down even more and will add more to the soil mixture.
As surprising as it sounds, yellowing potato plants is a good sign, as long as it comes at the right time of the growing season. The green plant above the ground will naturally yellow and wither up once the tubers beneath no longer need it. This is a sign that your potatoes are ready for harvest. Withering and yellowing plants signify that the potatoes have reached the “dying off” stage, and harvest is going to be soon.
However, if the withering and yellowing occurs too early in the season, before or during blooming, you may need to search for another reason to explain it. Some diseases and pests can cause this type of reaction as well, so if the timing is off than you need to solve the problem before your plants die off too soon and ruin the tubers underground.
There are not an abnormal number of pests or diseases that attack potatoes, but enough exist that they can make growing potatoes difficult under bad circumstances. Some of the most common bugs and pests that bother potatoes are:
- Melon thrips
- Whitefringed Weevils
- Tuber Moths
- Potato Moths
- Flea Beetles
- Potato Beetles
It’s difficult to keep all of these pests away from the plants as they’re growing, but you can keep an eye out and watch for any pests that do show up. Pesticides shouldn’t be used on food crops unless absolutely necessary, so it’s best to look for natural ways to defeat the worst pests instead of breaking out the pump sprayer right away.
Some other types of common garden plants will help to drive away or repel pests naturally. Look for the common pests in your area and see if you can plant anything alongside your potatoes that may help them to ward off attacks.
Another way to fight off insect pests is to introduce good bugs to the environment. For example, ladybugs are one of the natural enemies of aphids. If aphids are attacking your potatoes, then ladybugs can be introduced to the garden to deal with the problem without using pesticides at all. Ladybugs do not attack potatoes, so you will have defeated a pest without causing yourself another, bigger issue.
Common diseases that potatoes face include:
- Brown fleck
- Early blight
- Late blight
- Powdery scab
- Bacterial wilt
- Black dot
- Dry rot
- Powdery mildew
- Mosaic virus
Not all diseases are preventable, but there are some ways to combat the problems before they kill off your plants completely. Some diseases, such as bacterial wilt, are difficult to prevent and even harder to combat once they’ve started.
If you want to have the best chances of avoiding pest and disease entirely, there are a few things you can do to make it happen. Here are a few good strategies to adopt to help your potato plants stay as healthy as possible:
Certified seed is sold in official seed stores and by official sellers. This type of seed is certified to come from a healthy, disease-free plant. You can find most varieties of potatoes this way, and it will be a sure way of knowing you are not accidentally growing a diseased plant from the start.
Too much moisture is what brings in most fungal infections, rots, and bacterial diseases. Keep your plants from staying in too much water or from being moist at the wrong times. Watering in the morning helps with this problem, because the water has time to dry during the day. Avoid watering at night, because the water will usually just sit and create soaked spots around the potatoes.
Not all potatoes are suitable for every area. Some varieties are more resistant to certain types of diseases, while others are resistant to pests. Choose the type of potato that will work well in your climate and will resistant as many of the local agricultural diseases well. A local heirloom variety is probably your best bet for great results.
I talked about watering earlier, but it’s important to emphasize this again as a way to help prevent disease from getting to your potatoes. If you over-water your plants, they can easily get moisture-related diseases.
However, if you under-water the plants they also become highly susceptible to many types of diseases and pests. This is called drought stress. Just as stress makes the human body more vulnerable to immune system attacks, drought stress can make plants vulnerable to diseases.
Instead of planting potatoes in the same patch of soil each season, you should be rotating them each year to a new patch of soil. Rotating crops is an important practice that you should do for every type of plant, because it helps to keep pests and diseases from staying in the soil and attacking the plant again the next time you plant it.
If a disease or a pest attacks your potatoes and you fail to rotate your next crop to a new patch of soil, that same disease or pest might already be present in the soil and ready to attack your new crops more quickly. Rotating helps you start fresh with different plants each time, give the pests and diseases no real opportunity to strike early.
Congratulations!! Your potatoes are ready to be harvested. You can tell that it’s time for the harvest when the green plants above have withered and died off. The general timeframe for potatoes changes too much based on the variety you’ve planted, but it should be between 2 to 4 months before you get your first harvest. You may be able to get a second harvest, depending on the variety of potato and how early they produce.
If you want to harvest new potatoes, you can do this about 2 or 3 weeks from the time that flowering finishes on the plant. Instead of digging up the whole crop, you’ll just search around with your hands to find big enough potatoes to harvest individually. Otherwise, leave the crop for longer so they all have a chance to mature before you harvest them.
You have two choices about when to start your harvest. Once the plants have died off, the potatoes are ready for harvesting. Don’t start before then, as they will not have fully matured yet. This is the earliest you should expect to harvest potatoes.
However, you have the choice to leave them for longer if you wish. If you plan to use fresh potatoes right away, harvesting as soon as they’re ready is a good idea. But if you plan to store them for any period of time, it’s a good idea to let them mature and harden in the ground for about 2 to 4 weeks after the plants have died off. Make sure you mark where your plants used to be, so you’ll know exactly where to harvest once the time comes.
Leaving the potatoes in the ground means you do not water them or dig them up in any way. These steps will toughen up the skin, so that the potatoes will resist rot or disease while in storage.
You can use a few different types of tools to harvest potatoes. Any tool that can turn the ground over will work well for harvesting potatoes. Common tools include pitch forks, pointed shovels, or cultivators. Each tool uses the same method for harvesting, with only minor differences in how you should handle the tool.
Starting from about one foot away from the plant, dig down as low as you planted the potatoes. From there, gradually dig closer to the plant itself, turn the ground over as you go. Be careful to avoid piercing potatoes whenever possible.
Turn over the potato plants until you’ve dug out an area as deep as the seeds, about one foot around the plant in all directions. Search around for other potatoes, if you see any signs of more tubers growing. It’s important to harvest all of the tubers from the ground, or they may start sprouting again next spring without you planting them or preparing the garden beforehand. This may not seem like a bad thing if you’re planning on growing potatoes again next season, but remember that rotating the garden is vital to keeping away pests and diseases. Tubers that sprout in the same place will prevent garden rotation.
You have two options for storage. Long and short storage require different care and treatment. We’ll talk about both so that you’re familiar and can make your own choice depending on how you like to use your potatoes.
For short storage, you may consider leaving the potatoes in the ground. By short storage, I mean storing until the fall season approaches. During this time, you can dig out potatoes as you need them and leave the rest safely inside the soil to store. Soil is a great temperature for potatoes, and helps to keep them safe. If you are experiencing a lot of rain, this method will be a problem and you should harvest them all before they begin rotting. Otherwise, leave them in the ground and dig them up as needed.
Long storage makes it impossible to leave potatoes in the ground. Instead, you can leave them for 2 weeks to toughen up, and then harvest them all at once. Try to avoid damaging potatoes as you’re digging them out. You won’t be able to store potatoes that have been pierced, cut, or if the skin has been scraped away.
The next step for long storage is to cure the potatoes in a dry place. Don’t wash the potatoes before you cure or store them. You can brush off the excess dirt to keep your pantry a bit cleaner. Cure potatoes in a dry, dark place for 2 weeks before putting them away for long storage.
Now that your potatoes are ready to be stored, you can put them into a bin, cardboard box, a sack, a plastic container, or anywhere else. Stored potatoes need good ventilation to keep rot and disease away. Strong, undamaged potatoes can be stored for up to 6 months without any trouble, as long as they’re kept in the right conditions. Ideal storage conditions are a dark, cool, and dry area with good ventilation. Don’t store potatoes together with vegetables or other foods, even onions or garlic.
Want to learn how to stay away from problem with potatoes? Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make when growing potatoes:
Don’t start out too large if you don’t have experience with potatoes. Start small the first time and grow your ambitions as you learn how to handle potatoes better.
Potatoes need good soil for a healthy sturdy crop. Take time to make your soil soft and loamy, or you may have disappointing results.
Fertilizing the right amount before planting can help your potatoes grow well. But, it’s not recommended to fertilize once the plants are already growing, because this can ruin the tubers.
I’ve mentioned a few times how over-watering can cause rot. This is a big mistake a lot of people make, because you may not know exactly how much water to use. Follow the watering instructions I’ve given and pay attention to how wet your soil is.
Potatoes need space to grow well. Don’t plant them too close together just to fit a few more plants in the same garden space. This is a mistake that could lead to a poor yield.
Hilling prevents tubers from greening on the edges and gathering toxins. It’s an important part of the process for healthy and delicious potatoes. Don’t forget to do it frequently to cover all the tubers as they’re growing!
If you find any signs of pests or disease on the plants, deal with it right away instead of trying to waiting and see what will happen.
Planting too late will either yield a poor harvest or will result in your plants dying off before they can produce well. Make sure you get the timing right if you want to enjoy the fruit of your labor.
A nice twist on regular baked potatoes, twice-baked potatoes add a bit more flavor and crispness to a classic recipe. This is one of the easiest potato recipes you’ll run into; anyone can do it!
Thin-sliced potatoes covered in delicious, rich ingredients and baked in the oven to make a casserole. Scalloped potatoes are already a great recipe but these loaded scalloped potatoes make a crowd-pleasing side dish.
Perfect for the summer, potato salad is a great way to use potatoes in a cold dish instead of baking them. The mix of flavors in this recipe is sumptuous and works really well with a light summer lunch or dinner. Break out the burgers and hotdogs!
A warm and thick soup, this is the best way to keep yourself comfortable on a cool fall evening or a winter night. Making a hearty ham and potato soup is simple, but the results are fabulous!
Need an alternative for breakfast? Potato pancakes throw together a few great breakfast foods into one delicious piece. They’re healthy, and can easily be made gluten-free with a few simple substitutions. This is a savory version of traditional breakfast pancakes.
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:
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…
We’ll take a quick glance now at their general nutritional value in a little more detail.
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?
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Amazing Health Benefit of Strawberries cannot be stressed highly enough. Do yourself a favor and make strawberries a core part of your fruit intake.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some other superb varieties that you might want to think about.
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.
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!
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.
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.
First, a step-by-step summary of general strawberry 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:
Each of these systems needs different cultivation techniques and garden tools as well as different planting densities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Once you have your strawberries in full flow, you’ll want to renovate them by renewing or simply maintaining the beds.
Maintenance kicks in directly after the final strawberry harvest.
Source: Soil Test
Check your soil when harvest is over following the guidelines set out above.
Once harvest is over, cut back all your plants to 2 inches in height.
Make sure you get rid of any weeds before renovation.
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.
Follow these simple pointers and maintaining your strawberries need not cause you a headache.
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.
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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