Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Strawberries

Nothing is more delicious than a warm, luscious strawberry straight out of a garden. Conventionally grown strawberries are one of the most pesticide-laden fruits on the market, so it certainly benefits both your wallet and health to grow your own. Strawberries can grow straight in the garden or in planters, raised beds or hanging pots.

Hardiness Zones:
4-10 (Find your hardiness zone.)

When to Plant:
It is easiest to purchase starter plants from a nursery or home improvement store. Plant them in the garden in early spring.

Good soil prep is important. Strawberries are shallow rooted and need soil enriched with generous amounts of compost. Water generously and apply a thick layer of mulch.

Space Needed:
Space each plant 18 inches apart, with the first runners positioned with 6 inches of spacing between them.

At the end of the growing season, strawberries send out “runners,” which are like spidery legs that plant themselves in the ground and grow a new plant. This might sound like a good thing (and it can be) but control needs to be exercised as strawberries can run wild and take over a space quickly. Pinch off unwanted runners to stop overpopulation that can rob the parent plant of vital energy that it needs to grow fruit. Mulch under strawberries with light-reflecting straw, which helps ripen the underside of the berries. Every three years, the plants need to be rooted out and replaced. Therefore, it is a good idea to start a new, small crop every year to keep a rotation of fertile plants. Birds love to snitch strawberries, so netting around the plants is helpful if they become too much of a nuisance.

When to Harvest:
"June-bearing" plants provide a large crop all at once and are tastier, while "everbearing" plants produce berries all summer long. Pick when they are deep red and come off the plant easily.

Average Yield:
One strawberry plant can produce 1-2 quarts of berries.

Continuous Yield:

Life Cycle:
Perennial up to 3 years

Difficulty Rating (1-5):