The strawberry cultivated today has resultedfrom the interbreeding of a number of
species, principally the North American
as well as the South American
This intermingling of geneticcharacteristics has resulted in a fruit of greatvariety in taste and color, with a croppingability and season of such versatility that itcan be grown from the Tropics to the cooltemperate regions of the world. It is nowonder the strawberry is the most popularsoft fruit.For the purposes of cultivation the strawberry is divided into three categories: theordinary June-fruiting strawberry; the so-called ever-bearing strawberry that producesone crop in the spring and a second crop inthe fall; and the alpine strawberry
a mountain form ofwild strawberry (see page 23).
The ordinary, or June-bearing strawberry,crops once only in the early summer. A fewdo crop again in fall and these are called"two crop" varieties, but they are cultivatedin the same way as the others. The expectedyield per strawberry plant is about 8-10 oz.
Some gardeners prefer to grow strawberriesas an annual crop, planting new runners eachyear. This method produces high quality fruitsbut a lower yield than that of larger two- orthree-year-old plants.
Soil and situation
Most soils are suitable forstrawberries, but they should be well drained.On waterlogged land, if a drainage system isnot practicable, grow strawberries on ridges2-3 in high. They prefer a slightly acid (pH6.0-6.5) light loam in a frost-free, sunny situation. They will, however, tolerate some shadeand because many varieties flower over along period, the later flowers should escapespring frosts. Strawberries are readily attackedby soil-borne pests and diseases and a systemof soil rotation should be practiced. Do notgrow them for more than three or four yearsin any one site. For this reason, strawberriesare best grown with the vegetables ratherthan with the more permanent fruit plants.
A strawberry bed will bedown for three or four years, and the initialpreparations should be thorough so that theland is made fertile and free from perennialweeds. In July dig in well-rotted manure orcompost at about the rate of 14 lb to thesquare yard. Rake off any surplus becausebulky organics on the surface encourageslugs, snails and millipedes. Once applied, nomore organics should be needed for the lifeof the bed. Just before planting, lightly fork ina balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 at3 oz per square yard.
Planting and spacing
The earlier the planting, the better the maiden crop in the following year. Plant in early spring after the groundhas started to warm up. It is not necessaryto wait until frost danger has passed. In thewarmest American climates, however, it isbetter to plant in October. Plant the runnersin moist soil with the crown of the strawberry just level with the soil surface; planting toodeep may result in the rotting of the buds andplanting too shallow may cause drying out.Plant with a trowel or hand fork, spreadingout the roots well. Replace the soil and firm it.Space the plants 18 in apart in rows 3 ft apart.On a light soil they can be 15 in apart with
ft between the rows. Plants to be grownfor two years need only 12 in spacing.
The flowers are pollinated by beesand such crawling insects as pollen beetles.Imperfect pollination results in malformedfruits. All modern varieties are self-fertile.
Watering and feeding
Water regularly forthe first few weeks after planting and whenever dry conditions occur during the growingseason, but try to keep water away from theripening berries because this encourages graymold
The risk is less withtrickle or drip irrigation because only the soilis wetted. Damp conditions overnight alsoencourage botrytis; water in the morning sothat the plants are dry by nightfall. In mid-August each year, apply a balanced fertilizerat 1/2 oz per square yard along each side of therow. No other feeding is necessary unlessgrowth has been poor. In this case applysulfate of ammonia at 1/2 oz per square yard inApril, taking care to prevent fertilizer touching the foliage because it will scorch it.
Weeds compete for nutrientsand water. Keep the rows clean by shallowhoeing and tuck any runners into the row tofill gaps. Pay particular attention to cleaningup between the rows before mulching.Weedkillers may be used (see page 17).In general, shallow cultivation of strawberries keeps weed growth in check. But careshould be taken to weed strawberry bedseach fall, and particular attention should bepaid to the removal of all weeds.
1 In late winter or thepreceding fall,
dig in well-rotted manure or compostat a rate of 14 lb per squareyard. Rake off any surplusmanure.
2 About April,
plant thestrawberries 18 in apart inrows 3 ft apart. Spread outthe roots, keeping thecrowns level with the soilsurface. Firm the soil.
3 For the first few weeksafter planting
and duringall succeeding dry spells inthe growing season, waterregularly. Keep water awayfrom ripening berries.
4 Up to July 15
in the firstyear, pick off all blossomsto force strength into theplants for a big crop nextyear.5
When the fruits begin toswell,
scatter slug pelletsalong the rows. Cover theground beneath the berriesand between rows withbarley or wheat straw.
6 Protect the fruit frombirds.
Support nets withposts at least 18 in tall.Cover posts with jars orpots first.