Strawberries are possibly the most irresistible and beautiful fruits. Everything about them be it color, texture or flavor is appealing which is why many people love growing strawberries in their home garden.
Strawberries are really diverse fruits and are used in many mouth-watering preparations like cakes, jams, jellies, tarts, ice- creams, etc. You can try growing strawberries in your home garden and experience the pleasure of picking bountiful produce during the harvest time. Some of the important things to consider if you are planning to grow strawberries in your garden are-
Choosing the plants-Strawberries come in many varieties and are broadly classified into June Bearing, Everbearing and Day Neutrals.June bearing varieties produce a single crop annually and they have the largest berries. Everbearing and Day Neutral varieties can be harvested up to 3 times in a year. The fruits that they produce are smaller as compared to the June bearing strawberries. Everbearing and Day Neutrals are good if you have a small garden as these two varieties produce lesser runners. All these different kinds of strawberry plants are available in the market so you can choose the ones that suit your requirements.
Choosing the site- You should choose a site that gets full sun for planting strawberries as they thrive in sunny location. The area should be free from perennial weeds. Strawberries thrive well in an area that has good air circulation and a well drained soil. It is advisable not to grow strawberries in an area where peppers, tomatoes, potatoes or eggplant have been grown recently as your crop can get infected with Verticulum rot.
Preparing the soil- It is crucial to prepare the soil before planting strawberry plants. Strawberries can grow in different types of soil but sandy and loamy soils work best for them. The soil should be rich in organic matter and should be well-drained. The ideal pH range for strawberries is 5.5 to 6.5. You should get the soil tested in a laboratory before growing the plants. If it is not rich then you can add fertilizers and manure to increase the quality of soil.
Planting the strawberry plants- Once you have prepared the soil, you can plant the strawberries. They should be planted in the spring season as soon as the soil is ready to be worked upon. Dig out enough soil to accommodate the roots and plant the strawberries. There should be enough spacing between plants as they tend to produce runners. In case if you plant them really close then they would not be able to grow properly.
Mulching- Strawberry plants are very sensitive to cold climatic conditions. The soil should be covered with mulch during winter season to prevent it from freezing. Mulching is important to save the plants from serious damage during winters. Hay, Straw, Coarse Wheat and crushed cob can be used for mulching.
Care and Maintenance-During the first year, you should remove all the flowers from the plant as it helps in strengthening the roots and stem. Deflowering ensures that the plants become strong and healthy for a better fruit production in coming seasons. Watering the plants in adequate quantities is really important for good quality fruit production. Also, keep a regular check on the unnecessary weeds that tend to grow along with the strawberry plants. Remove the weeds as they utilize the nutrients from soil that are essential for the growth of your plants.
Harvesting-The fruits should be picked as soon as they are ripe because if you allow them to remain on the plants for a long time then the insects and birds will destroy them. Overripe fruits attract pests and insets so avoid leaving overripe berries on the plants.
These are the key things that should be kept in mind in case if you are planning to grow strawberries in your home garden. Proper care and maintenance will result in healthy plants that will yield beautiful sun-kissed berries.
Make sure that you buy healthy plants for your home garden so that they thrive and yield maximum fruit during the harvest season.