Are you a fruit farmer and considering to plant and nurture strawberries? Well, here is some vital information that will spring you towards your new venture. This article will also be helpful if you are not a farmer but are considering to plant strawberries in your backyard for home consumption.
Why Plant Strawberry?
Apart from being juicy and irresistibly delicious, the fruit is in high demand. Due to its many uses-making strawberry juices, yogurts, smoothies, ice cream, milk etc.-it has a vast market share. Its different flavorings are the greatest pull of its enthusiasts due to its various varieties. The plant boasts improved returns with little care after its first year of planting due to its runners.
The three types of strawberry are Everbearer, Junebearer, and Day-Neutral. These names are derived from their adaptability to different conditions and produce in different seasons. You can, therefore, choose your favorite type or the one that will best adapt to your climatic zone. other benefits include the health benefits attached and the privilege of getting fresh berries compared to the hard ones in the store.
How to Prepare the Planting Site
Strawberries depend on well-drained soils coupled with 8-10 hours of sunlight. Your site should be able to provide these prior conditions before you consider everything else. Whether it is ground or raise structure that you are eyeing, ensure that the soil can drain water easily. The recommended pH for the soil is 5.5-7 so alter the soil if necessary, before planting to increase the yield.
Purchasing Seedlings or Seeds and Planting
Seedlings are considered the best option as they require minimal time to give produce. However, if you are ready for a long wait before your first harvest you can consider planting seeds. Both of these options require that you purchase quality products from reputable sellers. Inspect the seedlings for any pathogens before planting them in order to manage to plant and nurture strawberries the right way.
Plant the strawberry seedlings in a weed-free site. The spacing should be 20 inches between the seedings with rows at least 4 feet from the next. This is to provide enough space for the plant to spread giving room for more berries.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends that you introduce new plants each year for quality output and this may include planting the runners. Plant the seedlings in relatively deep soil, but not too deep as the top of the root should be right at the soil’s surface.
Caring for The Plant
Since the plants require a lot of sunlight, plant them where there is adequate exposure during most part of the day. This makes them healthy and capable to shoot and produce berries at the right time. On top of this, water the plant daily due to their shallow roots and especially in the morning. Experts advise mulching to contain the moisture during daytime and ward of weeds.
After the plant has started to produce the berries, ensure that you take the necessary measures to wars off preying birds. Weeding using hands is recommended while the plant is young. The importance of regular weeding is to fight diseases that are caused by these weeds. In case you notice any disease on your plants, take necessary measures to avert its spread. Common diseases and pests include:
- Gray Mold
- Japanese Beetles
- Spider Mites
Harvesting and Storage
In 4 to 6 weeks after blossoming, the berries are ready for harvesting. You should only pick the ripe berries and without pulling them to avoid harming the plant. Pick the fruits in a three-day interval for up to three weeks.
Unwashed berries can be refrigerated for up to five days. If you opt for longer time refrigeration, wash them first. Do not scrub them extremely to avoid losing their flavor. Place them on a dry spread towel for them to dry then put them in air-tight bags and into the freezer. I hope you got informed on how to plant and nurture strawberries. Now, let’s do this!