But who loves paying those high prices at the grocery store just to open them later and find a bunch of rotten strawberries hiding at the bottom? This has happened to me many times. Why not grow your own strawberries? It is actually pretty easy to do and once you start growing them, they kind of take care of themselves. And you can grow them in just about any climate. They live through cold temperatures and come back every year. Whether you want them to or not. Yes, some types of wild strawberries can be a nuisance to some people. I personally like anything wild that grows on its own. And if you do not have an area outside to grow them, grow them in a container indoors. They just need a lot of sunlight.
Plants that Come Back
One of the best things about growing strawberries is that they are perennials. So they come back every year on their own. Just plant them once and then you will have strawberries every year for many years to come. And they will spread too if you let them and take care of them right. According to the experts, each strawberry plant will produce about one quart of strawberries every year. So if you have several plants, your family and friends will have enough for the whole year. So, how do you start a strawberry garden? I am going to help you with that right now.
Seeds Versus Seedlings
I have been doing some research and have read that many people just planted several strawberries in some potting soil and grew strawberry plants. Others say that they sliced the strawberries and buried the slices. I have not tried this, but I am going to. In the meantime, you can choose from seeds or seedlings. Lots of people love to just buy packets of seeds and plant them indoors until they sprout. This is fine, but sometimes, they do not like being handled like that and they may not make it. While seeds are less expensive, seedlings are not much more, and you will probably save money in the long run because they have a better chance of thriving if you use seedlings.
Choosing the Right Kind of Strawberry
Believe it or not, each state has its own “best strawberry varieties” so I am going to go over the ones for my state, which is Missouri. According to the University of Missouri Horticultural MU Guide, the top 10 types that do well here include:
- Surecrop: Tart and light-colored large fruit that are one of the most productive and disease resistant types.
- Sparkle: A late bloomer, these berries are medium-sized and soft with a good flavor. Great for making jams and preserves.
- Redchief: Sweet and large berries but susceptible to root disease and leaf spot. They freeze well and spread freely.
- Lateglow: These typically ripen in late-season and yield a lot of berries. They are winter hardy and resistant to disease.
- Jewel: A fruit that blooms later but produces more than the others. Very firm, large, and have a great flavor. Resistant to disease and handle Missouri winters.
- Honeoye: This plant produces a lot of medium-large berries that taste good but are not the best. They are winter hardy and resistant to disease.
- Earliglow: An early bloomer with great flavor that freezes well. Winter hardy and bloom twice a year.
- Chandler: Best for southern Missouri, these are large berries that have a good flavor. They are firm and hardy but can be susceptible to anthracnose rot.
- Annapolis: These are hardy and grow large, red fruits with good flavor. They withstand winter well and are resistant to disease.
- Allstar: Firm, large, and glossy is how these are described, and they are good eaten right off the vine. Resistant to many diseases.
Although these specific types of strawberries are supposed to be for Missouri gardeners, some of them are good just about anywhere. The Earliglow, Redchief, Allstar, and Sparkle are popular in many states from New Hampshire to Nevada. Usually, your garden store will sell those that grow well in your area but do not count on it. We have bought several plants and found out they do not make it through our winters. So, check the tag and see if it is good for your zone.
Plot Your Strawberry Garden
Whether you are planting them in a container or outdoors, you need to get the soil ready. Strawberries prefer high amounts of organic matter and sandy loam. You can add peat moss, compost, or even some sand to provide the best environment for your berries. And make sure it is in an area that has excellent soil and surface drainage. They will rot if there is too much standing water around them.
Matted Row System
The matted row system for strawberries is the most common way to grow them. For this type of garden, set your plants about two feet apart in rows that are approximately four feet apart. Allow the plants to spread on their own (runners) and they will grow to be one large mat of strawberries. You will get the largest number of berries from this system, but the quality may not be as good.
The Mound System
Also known as the hill system, this is good for everbearing plants or day neutral berries. For this style of gardening start with a mound (or hill) of soil about eight inches high and two feet across. Plant two strawberry seedlings per mound in a staggered pattern. The plants should be about a foot away from each other. These are not allowed to spread, and runners should be removed. With this system, you get a higher quality but fewer berries. No matter how and where you plant your strawberries, enjoy them!