strawberries for profit or pleasure, learn how
to grow strawberries and a growing guide for organic
strawberry plants by seeds or runners. Strawberries are one of the best
cash crops for small farms. Even in the height of the growing season
demand is always larger than supply and so therefore an excellent money
fruit crop. Even at times when strawberries are cheap, what they have
cost you to produce will still ensure a good profit.
one of the highest levels of pesticides when grown commercially. If you
want to see just how many toxic sprays are used on conventionally grown
strawberries - prepare to be horrified. See our page entitled 4 reasons
organic strawberries. We
don't need commercial pesticides to grow beautiful
strawberries for profit there are 3 things you need to take into
So how many quarts of strawberries can you expect per acre? It really
depends on the variety, how intensive you intend to farm this cash crop
and how well you look after them. It can range from 2,000 - 20,000
quarts per acre. It really will depend entirely up to you and your
- The strawberry plants should be high yielding and this is
determined by chosing the correct variety
- The strawberry plants should be well looked after
- The strawberry fruit should be handled and picked with care
are 3 main types of
Growing Summer-Bearing Strawberries
just one large crop of fruit during the summer of every year, generally
in June or July in the northern hemisphere. Another name for these
varieties are "Short Day Strawberries" because it is the short days of
fall that encourage the plants to make flower buds.
Although these berries are the largest of all the 3 types they do have
the most problems with soil-borne diseases, so can be difficult to grow
this type of strawberry organically, although not impossible.
the opposite end of the spectrum. These berries bear fruit all
throughout the year, as long as the climate is good and temperatures
are below 90º F. In places where the climate is mild you can guarantee
growing strawberries all year round. However, if not, then you can
expect to harvest your berries from late May until the frosts come if
you live in the Northern
Growing day-neutral strawberries is a good choice for growing in
containers as they like to live close together with their neighbors
and don't produce runners. They are also a good-sized berry; medium to
large with a good taste. One of my favorite varieties is "Albion" as
it is one of the best strawberry varieties for organic strawberry
growing giving very little trouble and with a great resistance to
give 2 crops; one in spring and the other in late summer / fall.
However, after 3
years it is best to remove the plants and replant with new strawberry
plants as the number of strawberries you are able to harvest will start
to decline, the plants will become weaker and more prone to disease.
They produce a medium sized berry and seldom send out runners, so also
suitable for growing in containers.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - Climate
Strawberry growing can take place in a
wide variety of soils and climatic conditions from the topics to cooler
climes. Just make sure that you choose a variety that will grow well in
In the Southern
can plant your strawberry plants out in April if you live in tropical
areas and can harvest in winter and early spring. In cooler
areas, plant in late winter and early spring if you live in a
frost-free area. If not, plant after the danger of frost has passed and
harvest in the summer.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - Soil and Conditions
There is a very
general impression that light, dry, sandy soils are the best for the
strawberry. In fact, it's just the opposite. Strawberries love moisture
so much that it is almost an aquatic
Having said that, they don't like to have pools of water lying around
it at any time. However, those juicy strawberries are those that have
had a steady supply of water during the times that they needed it.
ideal soil for growing strawberries should
be rich and slightly acidic, with plenty of well-rotted manure and
compost to keep the moisture in. Ideal growing conditions for the
strawberry plant is a pH of anywhere between 5.5 - 6.8 .
Strawberries seem to prefer cow manure
to others, although they will also thrive on horse manure if cow manure
is not available. Manure
from the horse-stable, therefore, is almost doubled in value as well as
composted with leaves, muck, or
sods, and allowed to decay before being used. But whatever farmyard
is used, it must be well-rotted.
you are growing strawberries for profit then you will need to make sure
that you prepare your beds well in advance, at least 1 year in advance
where a heavy application of farmyard manure should be added
the soil and well mixed. This will add humus to the soil and improve
its fertility. This is bed done in the fall.
The soil should also drain
well, still retain good moisture levels, but not be soggy.
that can be planted
on the soil to be used for growing strawberries are buckwheat, oats,
clover or hairy vetch.
Strawberry plants should be planted in
where they will crop profusely under the right conditions.
Also make sure that the position gets good air-circulation as
strawberries can be affected by fungal diseases. They will also
tolerate some shade although they don't like
dense shade. Keep strawberries moist. You'll need to water your
strawberries twice a week, unless it rains. To prevent fungal disease water in the mornings only.
Although they love well prepared soil with nutrients once planted, don't overfeed
them as they will develop more leaves than fruit, which is not what you
want. Rather just give them a good feeding at planting time, and then
monthly during the growing season.
feed for growing strawberries, especially liquid seaweed during their
period. They also like fish fertilizers or a manure tea made again with
rotted cow manure.
containers is very possible and you can use cut
place strawberries in hanging
baskets where they make a lovely show, in purpose-built strawberry
barrels or just in pots
and containers on your veranda or patio. Don't grow strawberries in
containers though. Strawberry plants have long roots, and it is not
uncommon to find some strawberries with roots of 2 feet!
your soil is not deep enough you will get a good sized crop from the
first flush, but all your strawberries will fruit together and the
second flush will be small and small in number too.
As mentioned above, the day-neutral
the best varieties for growing in containers. They will flower and
fruit all season long.
Plant the container with one part
compost and 2
parts potting soil. Add some well-rotted cow manure. Remember when
sufficient potash is vital for a good
crop. Wood ash, not coal ash, is mixed into the soil at
the rate of 1
oz per square yard or seaweed meal at the rate of 3 ounces are great
for encouraging heavy cropping.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - Best Companions
Grow strawberries with beans, lettuce
If you have a herb garden borage and strawberries grow very well
Countryfarm Lifestyles Hint
To improve the taste of your strawberries mulch with dry pine needles.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - Best Planting Time
If you are thinking about growing strawberries where winters are very
cold one should
wait until the frosts have passed and plant strawberries out in early
if you don't have to worry about severe winters and your climate is
mild, you can plant strawberries out in late summer, early autumn where
are left to fruit the following summer.
If strawberry plants are planted in the
any flowers that emerge should be picked off to allow the plants to
build up their strength for when they fruit the following year. Not
only will the yield be greater the following year if this is done, but
the number of runners that the plants will throw out will be greater
too. Thus creating a greater opportunity for increasing the size of
your strawberry patch.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - How to Grow Strawberries by Seed
Although you can get strawberry seeds
from your local garden center it takes some time to get them to a stage
whereby you will benefit from picking your first harvest. However, if
this is your only option, sow your seeds in early spring .
The seeds are extremely small, so make sure that when you plant them
you don't put too much soil over the top of them as too much soil will
make it difficult for them to germinate successfully.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - How to Plant Strawberries
When you buy strawberry plants the best time to plant
the plants about
foot away from each other . Allow the roots be spread
out, not buried in
a mat, the earth pressed FIRMLY against them, and the crown of the
plant be exactly even with the surface of the soil, which should also
be pressed closely around it with the fingers.
This may seem minute
essential if you
want to grow strawberries successfully. If you plant your
strawberry plants too deeply the crown will rot, too shallow and the
plant will dry out. See the picture below.
The plant in the middle is
at the correct depth. The plant on the left is too high, and the plant
on the right is too deep.
The Middle Strawberry Plant is Planted at the Right Depth
plants will be
set 1 foot apart in the
and then 3
feet away from each row .
like to grow my strawberries
because as they grow and spread they fill up the spaces and I can then
spike the runners into the ground to get more plants next year.
This is known as the matted system .
growing strawberries this way does have its drawbacks as when the
runners grow and matt together you can have a devil of a job keeping
the weeds down in this large bed. One way around this is to make sure
that your beds are narrow enough so that you can get to the center of
it without difficulty. 3- 4 feet in width
is ideal as you can get to
the center easily from both sides.
Some people prefer to grow single
plants, cutting off the runners as soon as they appear. Certainly, it
has the advantage of keeping clean rows as well as producing large
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - How to Grow Strawberries by Runners
The strawberry plants that you buy from
the nursery will send out runners
after they have cropped.
than not they find their own patch of soil and send down roots without
any help from the grower. This type of growing will result in a very
densely planted strawberry patch.
However, if you like your strawberries
to be in regimented rows, select 2 or 3 of the best strawberry runners
and cut off
the rest. Place each new plant at the end of each runner in a small pot
filled with good potting mix and compost. Once the plants have
established their roots cut off the strawberry runners from the main
from the pots and plant out in their rows as before.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - How to Look After your Strawberries
After you have planted your strawberry plants out they should be well
Water daily until they are well established and then water at least 2 -
3 times a week depending on your climate and weather. It is best to
water the strawberries in the evening at this stage. At no
the soil be allowed to dry out.
If you live in an area where the
climate is severe in winter your strawberry plants will be affected.
To prevent too much harm to your roots and crowns use straw to protect
the plants. Apply layers of straw around the plants
temperature falls to -7ºC or 20ºF.
You may also resort to putting cloches
around your plants when growing strawberries to give them protection
from the cold.
commercial growers will tell you that as soon as the strawberries start
flowering in the spring you should remove them all as soon as possible.
This is because if you allow them to crop in the first season they will
be drained of their strength and be poor subsequent
I am not a commercial grower of strawberries I ignore this advice and
allow them to crop in the first season. Besides, I am far too impatient
to grow a whole bed of strawberries just to look at the leaves for a
Growing strawberries on straw is also
good to use when your
plants are fruiting in the spring and summer. This keeps the fruit off
the soil preventing them from spoiling and away from chewing insects
who might get round to spoiling a good part of your crop. If you don't
have straw, which can also be expensive, pine needles are a good
Make it a rule to mulch as soon as possible after the plants begin to
blossom, and also after a
good soaking rain. In this case the litter keeps the ground moist.
If the soil immediately about the plants
is covered when dry, the mulch may keep it dry - to the great detriment
of the forming
It is usually best to put on
the mulch as soon as the early cultivation is over, and then the bed
may be left
till the fruit is picked.
After the berries have been picked, the remaining treatment of the year
is very simple. Rake out
the mulch, cultivate the soil, and keep
the plants free of weeds and runners, if you are going to go with this
system. Before hard freezing
weather, protect again as before, and give the plants similar
following spring and summer.
this system the same plants may be kept in bearing three, four,
and five years, according to the variety. However, usually you only get
the best out of your strawberry plants for the first 3 years, after
which they will need replacing.
enemy when growing
strawberries, will be the
just love to be
tempted by those red, glossy berries and
will do quite a lot of damage if you don't deter them.
You can do this
be putting up canes of bamboo with tin foil strips attached to the
tops, scarecrows, netting or even criss-crossing strands of cotton
across your plants.
Renewing Old Strawberry Beds
the old bed is just where you wish it to be, and has been prepared in
the thorough manner described, it can be renewed in the following
manner: When the old plants begin to decline, say in the third or
fourth spring, a line of well-decayed compost and cow manure a
foot wide may be spread thickly down between the rows, dug under
deeply, and young plants set out just over the fertilizer.
plants can be treated as has already been described, and as soon as
they are through bearing, dug under. This would leave the young plants
in full possession of the ground, and the cultivation and management
for three or more years would go on as already directed.
as already mentioned, may be regarded as one of the very best tonics
for the strawberry plant. Bone-meal is almost equally as good.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - Diseases and Pests
When growing strawberries
it is also important to know what diseases and pests your plants are
likely to be attacked by. This is especially so, if you are
planting strawberries for the first time in soil that has been covered
by grass sod for several years. This is because in that particular soil
will be wire worms, the larvae of the May beetle and cutworms will be
in the soil, and will eat the roots of your plants.
If your leaves suddenly become brown and
distorted it could be that your plants have a virus. The only option
here is to dig up the affected plants and burn them.
To prevent the
attacked by viruses and disease, it is wise to cut off all the leaves
of each plant to about 10 cm above the crown after the fruiting season.
These should be removed and burned, rather than put into the compost
heap to prevent any contamination next season. Remove the straw as
well, and burn that too. This is important if you are growing perpetual
varieties that will crop year after year.
also be affected
mildew. When this happens you will see that the leaves
are covered in a
fine whitish-grey powder, and the leaves will start to curl. If this
happens, treat the plants regularly with a milk spray (one part milk to
nine parts water). Full sun and good air circulation reduces powdery
or gray mold ,
can also affect the fruit and leaves. Treat by removing the brown or
soggy fruit. Reduce watering immediately. If this doesn't stop the
spread, carefully remove so as not to spread the botrytis spores and
chief enemy of the strawberry is the May beetle . The
larva of this
insect, the well-known white grub, has an insatiable appetite for
strawberry roots, and in some localities and seasons is very
This beetle does not often lay its egg in
well-cultivated ground, and we may reasonably hope to escape its
ravages in a garden. If, when preparing for a bed, many white grubs are
found in the soil, I should certainly advise that another locality be
chosen. The only remedy is to dig out the larvae and kill them. If you
find a plant wilting without apparent cause, you may be sure that a
grub is feeding on the roots.
The strawberry plant is
comparatively free from insect enemies and disease, and rarely
disappoints any one who gives it the the attention it deserves.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES - How and When to Harvest
It should be
remembered that all
strawberries, unlike pears, should
be allowed to mature fully before being picked. Many a variety
is condemned because the fruit is eaten prematurely. If
you get it
right, you should be able to harvest strawberries for at least 6 weeks.
After about a month of your strawberries flowering you should be able
The strawberries are ready to harvest when
they are red and have a gloss to them. Pick the fruit on a dry day when
they are fully ripe after the morning dew has past and before 2:00 p.m.
Never pick the berries when they are wet .
If you are going to employ pickers, make sure that you employ enough
pickers to pick over all your beds once, every 2 days.
Commercial strawberry growers pack their fruit in quart containers
packed in either 4, 6 or 8 box carriers ,
and these in turn make up 24, 32 or 48 box crates .
Tips for Harvesting
your fruit only when ripe. For homegrowers these should be fully ripe,
for commercial growers the fruit should be firm ripe and fully colored.
- Throw away any insect eaten fruit, mishapen or over-soft
the strawberry with at least a 1/4 inch stem and don't hold too many
fruit in your hand at a time to minimize the chance of bruising.
- Keep the picked fruit out of the sun and into cold storage
as quickly as possible after picking.
- Make sure you don't trample on your plants while picking.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES: How many strawberries from 1 plant?
Of course, your strawberry harvest will depend on the variety you have
planted, the climate the plants have experienced during their growing
time, how healthy they are and whether you have looked after them
kindly. Assuming that all is well, you should expect to harvest 2-6 punnets of strawberries from
during the growing season.
borage, bergamot, daisies and other bee
plants near your strawberries to improve pollination and increase your
As you can see learning how
to grow strawberries is not that difficult!
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH ALL
STRAWBERRIES YOU HAVE GROWN?
When growing strawberries there are several things you can do. Make
your own jam, wine and home can your excess strawberries.
RECIPES for STRAWBERRY JAM, RECIPE 1
1 kg strawberries, washed, dried and hulled
juice of 1 lemon
1 kg sugar
fruit and lemon juice
(adding no water) into a pot and cook over a medium heat until fruit
has softened. Stir often.
Weigh the pulp. It should weigh about 700g. If it is more
reduce the amount by further cooking.
Add the sugar and continue as in the Basic Procedure, Steps 5,
6 & 7.
Let the fruit remain in the pot for at least 20 minutes before
pouring into the jars. This will prevent the fruit from rising to the
JAM RECIPES for STRAWBERRY JAM, RECIPE 2
1 kg jam sugar
the stalks from the strawberries and put
them in a preserving pan.
Stir and boil for thirty minutes over a moderate heat.
Add the sugar; stir
boil for about thirty minutes longer, or until the jam
Remove all the scum as it rises.
Put the jam into tightly and cover tightly.
Use equal weights of sugar and strawberries. Put the strawberries in
the preserving kettle in layers, sprinkling sugar over each layer. The
fruit and sugar should not be more than 4 inches deep. Place the kettle
on the stove and heat the fruit and sugar slowly to the boiling point.
When it begins to boil skim carefully. Boil ten minutes, counting from
the time the fruit begins to bubble.
Pour the cooked fruit into
platters, having it about 2 or 3 inches deep. Place the platters in a
sunny window, in an unused room, for three or four days. In that time
the fruit will grow plump and firm, and the syrup will thicken almost
to a jelly. Put this preserve, cold, into jars or tumblers.
Take of cold soft water, 7 galls.; cider, 6 galls.; strawberries, 6
galls. Ferment. Mix, raw sugar, 16 lbs.; red tartar, in fine powder, 3
oz.; the peel and juice of 2 lemons; then add brandy, 2 or 3 qts. This
will make 18 galls.
- Take of cold soft water, 10 galls.; strawberries, 9
Mix, raw sugar, 25 lbs.; red tartar, in fine powder, 3 oz., 2 lemons
and 2 oranges, peel and juice; then add brandy, 1 gall. This will make
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