Growing your own food is so fun! Not only do you get to see your crops grow up, but then you get to harvest and enjoy the results of your hard work!
If you like to cook, that could mean a lot of delicious recipes, especially baked treats using your fresh fruits. If you dream of a delicious homegrown strawberry crop to cook with, but are worried about making mistakes, check out these 6 Tips to Help You Grow Better Strawberries!
6 Tips to Help You Grow Better Strawberries
1. Keep Birds Away
It doesn’t do you any good to grow a great strawberry crop if you don’t get to harvest any strawberries! If left out in the open, it’s very likely that your local birds will pick from your crop. To keep them away, you can try to distract them with shiny things (reflective tape, old CDs, etc.). But the best defense is usually bird netting. Buy or DIY a simple frame to hold the netting over your strawberries and the netting will let sun and rain in while keeping birds out!
2. Watch Out for Mold
Not only will gray mold rot any strawberries it gets on, but it can easily spread to unaffected areas of your strawberry crop. To grow better strawberries, you’ll want to prevent mold from spreading, and from growing in the first place. To prevent mold from developing, watch your berries when temperatures get hot (85 degrees or higher) and give them a little shade to cool off. And if you see any mold, make sure to instantly throw away the moldy leaves or berries to keep the fungus from spreading. Check here how to keep your strawberries from molding once they are in your home.
3. Appropriate Sunlight
If you’re hoping to grow better strawberries, you’ll want to be aware of how much sunlight is getting to your plants. Strawberries love the sun! Make sure that the area they’re in gets full sun for as much of the day as possible. Watch out for nearby trees or fencing which may cast shadows over your strawberry crop for several hours of the day.
4. Get the Right Soil
Strawberries are pretty particular about the soil they like to grow in. Their optimum soil has a pH of 5.5 to 6.8 (slightly acidic). They also need soil with decent drainage, so consider mixing compost into your soil, especially if you know your yard has a lot of clay. Manure is another option if you don’t have compost available.
5. Pinch Plants
It may seem counterintuitive to pinch off part of a plant you worked so hard to grow, but with strawberries it’s essential if you want to grow better strawberries over the coming years. That’s because by pinching strawberry flowers and runners, you force your plants to put their energy toward developing better roots and leaves. This way, in their second year they’ll be well-developed and able to produce more and better berries. So the first year of your strawberry crop, try to pinch off most (not all) of the flowers and runners. This way you help the plants to develop, but you still get to watch some strawberries grow!
6. Adequate Space
Unlike other plants, strawberries don’t stay in one place, and they also don’t grow upwards. Instead, they love to spread out horizontally, needing about 20 inches between each plant, and 4 feet between each row of strawberries. This horizontal growth is actually beneficial to you, as the runners that come out of your main plants will lead to the growth of new strawberry plants. Give your strawberries enough space, and you can get a bunch of extra strawberry plants for free!
Have you ever grown strawberries with your children before?