The best way to succeed is to plan before you plant. Let’s discuss location: Do you know where you want to plant your new berry plant? Avoid many future problems by considering all aspects of the planting spot, such as:
Is a pollinator variety present? Cross-pollination by a different variety, of the same type of plant, is key to the success of many plants. In most cases, its absence is why the plant doesn’t bear fruit or produces poorly. Most berry plants are self-pollinating, but for a larger fruit and crop plant more than one variety.
Your plant would love a sunny place with well-drained, fertile soil. But it will be quite satisfied with six to eight hours of sunlight. Good drainage is required to keep your plant “happy.” If your soil has high clay content, use our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or add one-third peat to the soil at planting time. We do not recommend planting berries in heavy, pure clay soils.
Even if your yard isn’t the most ideal location, take heart. Most berries are very adaptable and respond well to fertilizers, so they can get along well even where the soil is nutritionally poor. Just steer clear of sites with extremely heavy soils or very poor drainage.
Once you’ve found out about fruit growing goodness firsthand, you’ll want to expand your home orchard. It’s important to plan so that the future growth areas will be ready when you are.
Few things are as delicious as homegrown strawberries, and the success of your harvest begins right with the planting site and method. For maximum growth and yields later on, give your plants the best foundation possible.
Before you plant, check your soil pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Ideally, your strawberries need a soil pH between 5.3-6.5. Strawberries will thrive in nearly any garden soil, even doing well among sand or rocks., but steer clear of soils that are extremely heavy or poorly drained.
There are three methods in which you can plant your berry patch: matted rows, hill rows or solid beds. Strawberries can also be grown in containers.
Preparing your soil before you plant will greatly improve your plant’s performance and promote healthy, vigorous growth. It is a good idea to have your soil tested to determine if it is lacking in any essential minerals and nutrients. This can be done through your County Extension Office or with one of our digital meters.
The goal of soil preparation is to replenish vital minerals and nutrients, as well as break up and loosen any compacted soil.
Soil preparation can be done at any time that the ground is not too wet or frozen. Your trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.
Your lawn can provide you with ideal organic materials such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Not only will the grass and leaves break down to provide soil nutrients, but they will help loosen the soil as well. You can gather these in the fall with spring planting in mind.
Adding organic materials, such as our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium and compost will improve most every soil type. Organic materials bind sandy soil particles so they retain moisture and nutrients better. They also break apart clay and silt particles, so that water can infiltrate and roots can spread.
During the fall, continue to use Stark® Strawberry Food on already-established plants. This will improve vigor, promote fruiting and increase berry yields each spring. Be sure to follow all package instructions.
Every plant has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your plants encounters. If available, disease-resistant varieties are the best option for easy care; and for all types of plants, proper maintenance (such as watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.
Yellow-brown winged insect may have black spots or red stripes. Inject toxins into the buds and shoots that cause ‘dwarfed’ shoots and sunken areas (cat facing) on fruit.
Pale yellow or ‘dirty’ green worms. Leaves are rolled and webbed together where insects feed. Eventually becomes skeletonized.
Adults are small beetle that feed on leaves making many small holes. Larvae feed on roots. Plow up bed in mid summer to kill the larvae. Replant with new plants in another bed.
White legless grub 1/5” long hollows out crown, plants slowly deteriorate and die.
Large fleshy grubs eat roots of new plants, which slowly die. Don’t plant in areas that were recently grass.
Immature bugs are small green, soft-bodied and adults are small (1/4”) winged insect that feed on the plant sap. They are surround by a white mass that looks like spit.
They suck on the sap, weakening the plants.
Lays eggs in flower buds, and girdles the stem. Larvae feed on buds and destroy them.
Adult is metallic green beetle. Skeletonizes leaves. Larvae are grubs which feeds on turf roots. Check turf product labels for timing of control of grubs. This is more of a problem east of the Mississippi River.
They are the size of a pinhead and vary in color depending on the species. Cluster on stems and under leaves, sucking plant juices. Leaves then curl, thicken, yellow and die. Produce large amounts of a liquid waste called “honeydew”. Aphid sticky residue becomes growth media for sooty mold.
Not a spider, but a tiny mite, sucks the juices from the leaves causing them to develop yellow and reddish-brown spots. Leaves die and drop. Underside of leaf appears to be dusted with white powder.
Gray, hairy mold. Decays blossoms, green and ripening fruits as well as harvested fruits.
Purple spots on leaves, may or may not have gray centers. Can be round but also fan-shaped. Can cause leaf curl. Many fungi cause spots and affect different varieties differently.
Appears as large red to brown spots with purplish margins. Mostly on older fruiting plants.
Usually appears on the underside of the leaves as tufts or downy masses of vegetative tissue leaves. Shoots and buds may be curled and whole plant somewhat dwarfed. Is more prevalent in humid weather.
Soft bodied, looks like a snail with no shell. Burrows into ripening fruits.
Plants wilt and die, usually just before or during harvest. Roots decay and show red cores. Control by rotating crops with at least 4 years between them. Most resistant variety is ‘Surecrop’.
Pinpoint in size, many different colors. Found on undersides of leaves. Sap feeding causes bronzing of leaves. Severe infestations have some silken webbing.
Occur when leaf cells overheat, browning and tissue death around leaf margins and between veins.
The fungus thrives in cool, moist conditions. Usually begins on plant debris, weak or inactive plant tissue, than invades healthy plant tissue. Causes spotting and decay of flowers and foliage, tissue becomes soft and watery. Affected parts of plant could wilt and collapse. If humidity remains high a grayish-brown coating and spores develops over the surface of the collapsed tissue.
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Pruning is an important part of proper edible plant care, but many people find the task overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Keep these things in mind:
Spraying is important to the survival of your plants. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.
Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.
Unless you’re in an area where irrigation is usually needed for normal plant growth, you probably won’t need to water after the first growing year. Until then, follow these guidelines to get your new strawberries off to a great start.
Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit.
You can start your strawberry harvest in the second season. Pick your strawberries in the early morning while they are cool. For the sweetest fruit pick your berries when they are fully red in color. Snap the stem directly above the ripe berry.
Strawberries are easily bruised so be careful when picking. Keep your picking container in a cool, shady location. Don’t overload your container or you will crush the fruit on the bottom.
Refrigerate your berries immediately after harvest they only keep for a few days. Washing can speed up spoiling so don’t wash your berry until ready to use.
Annual average yield:
If not able to use right away put berries on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze until firm and then put them in freezer bags to enjoy all year long.