Our family loves strawberries!
We love to eat them raw. We make low sugar strawberry jam. Cooking a low sugar strawberry sauce for cheesecake is at the top of our list too! As the years progress it seems strawberries are getting more and more expensive.
In an effort to cut costs and eat cleaner, we decided to grow our own.
Planting and caring for strawberries is not as hard as you might think.
There are a couple of important things to know about strawberries. They grow in acidic soil best. This means the soil ph should be below 7. Now where we live in Arkansas we naturally have acidic soil. But if you don’t, there are different types of organic matter you can add to your soil.
The two most prevalent bits of organic matter on our homestead are pine needles and chicken poo. Coffee grounds is a good one too. After you’ve enjoyed that hot steamy cuppa joe, take the grounds and put them in the strawberry bed!
We also put hay and leaves in our soil keeping worm activity high so the soil has natural aeration. Strawberries like well drained soil.
By nature they are not hard to grow. They start flowering and sprouting when spring arrives. Strawberries are self pollinating which means they do not need an insect to help pollinate. Most often wind will pollinate these cute little berries. We have found the red fruit does best with insect pollination though.
If you are new to growing this plant, you should know that strawberries grow in stages. Typically they only produce fruit for three years. It is important to give them the proper care they need in their first year.
In an effort to have higher yields and larger fruit it is recommended you do not allow your plants to put off fruit during their first year. They will naturally try to if you let them, but not allowing them to fruit produces a stronger root system.
Strawberry plants have shallow roots, so it doesn’t take long to get them started. As the plant grows, it will put off shoots. These shoots in turn root and start new plants. During the first year you want to clip these shoots. This tells the plant to concentrate on producing strong roots, not more plants.
Also pull off any flowers that appear. Once a plant starts to bloom it is getting read to put off fruit. When you pinch these buds, it tells the plant to focus on root growth.
It is very hard to do this the first year. We wanted strawberries so badly it proved difficult to not let it produce.
By the second year we rejoiced at the amount of fruit our plants gave off. It was worth the wait.
Strawberries abounded as we have ever bearing plants. That means they bear fruit from May-August. The variety suggests the fruit will be smaller, but yields are higher.
In our second year we let the plants flower and shoots run wild. Ever so often we place the shoots back into the soil so the plants create more roots and more plants. We started with 25 and now we have close to 50 plants!
As we move into our third year we have purchased new plants to replace the old ones. We still are getting fruit from the first round (which are larger and better at this point), but this gives us a full year to prune the new plants back, so in our fourth year of owning strawberries we don’t go without fruit. Make sense?
Do you have strawberry plants? What tips do you have for growing a healthy harvest?
*This post is part of the Homestead Blog Hop over at the Cape Coop