Growing strawberries at home doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. If you love the ripe, juicy taste of fresh strawberries and are willing to devote a little patch of space to some berries, then you can have a successful strawberry patch! Here are some helpful tips for growing strawberries at home!
Why grow strawberries at home
Sweet strawberry shortcake, crispy strawberry cobbler, ripe juicy berries with whipped cream just about any time of day…bright red strawberries officially usher in the spring season around here! These brilliant berries are a delight to the eye and the tongue! You could ask our littlest gardener– who ate his weight in berries when we had the opportunity to go and pick last week. He was so excited that the green tops were devoured along with the berries. I daresay he got his daily intake of fiber.
Our family recently planted our own strawberry patch, and a fun field trip last week to a local farm gave us a great opportunity to see strawberry growing done well. In fact, our kids were so fascinated by the tour of the farm and picking strawberries that they came home asking if we could also be farmers. Afraid not kids. Our 3/4 of an acre in town probably won’t cut it… and your father won’t even let me have a few chickens (update: we did get chickens!). Dreams crushed, the kids carried on and consoled themselves with some Sweet Charlie strawberries.
Popular varieties of strawberries
This particular farm seeds and grows strawberries every year. And the big bonus is that they don’t use pesticides on any of their produce. The owner shared with us that he wanted his son to be able to go out into any field and eat whatever he picked…talk about fresh! We’re sold on getting as much produce as we can from this farm, and if you’ve seen the PBS series A Chef’s Life, then you may have also seen Chef Vivian out at this farm learning all about tomatoes. Back to the berries…Putnam Farms grows several varieties of strawberries including:
- Sweet Charlie (heirloom)- these have a high sugar content and are softer, so not ideal for recipes, but perfect for eating. And isn’t it cool to know that this variety of strawberry has remained unchanged for generations?
- Camarosa- Better suited for recipes, and when ripe, will be a deep red, almost burgundy.
- Sweet Kiss Strawberries– Get in a bare root delivered to your house
- DeGroot Eversweet Strawberries
We focused on picking more of the Camarosa variety, because I knew I’d want to use them in a few recipes. We did sample a few Sweet Charlies, and they were delicious! Perfect for strawberry shortcake or sliced on a salad. Along the way, I managed to pick up some tips on growing berries that will help us all have better yields, even if we’re not planning to host a U-Pick strawberry patch in our backyards.
Tips for Growing Strawberries
- Don’t pick the flowers- While this may seem like a no-brainer, the blooms on a strawberry plant are actually the strawberries themselves. So leave them be, and roughly 21 days later you’ll have a ripe berry.
- Mound it up- Growing berries in a raised bed is wonderful for drainage, but if you’re planting in a traditional row (or in a random bed like us) then be sure to create a mound for your plant. This helps keep the berries from sitting in water, which could lead to rotting. And if possible, use drip irrigation to keep from spraying down your strawberry plants with water.
- Cut off the runners- Those long shoots that come off of your strawberry plant are looking to create a sister plant. Sister plants are great if you’re primarily looking to create more plants for next year, but if you want a higher yield, then cut those runners back so your plant focuses its energy on making berries.
- Watch out for visitors- These visitors can be of the weed variety or the bug variety. Strawberries do tend to be susceptible to weeds and pests, so be sure to keep your bed weeded and keep an eye out for ground-loving pests who love strawberries as much as you do.
Harvesting strawberries at home
As with most fruits and vegetables, harvest your berries when they are at the peak of being ripe. This means, they are bright red, but not yet mushy. If there is a heavy rain near harvest time, then you’ll want to get outside and harvest, since rain sitting on the ripe fruit can make them go bad.
Once you’ve harvested, eat away! Or freeze your strawberries to use later in smoothies, homemade ice cream, cobbler, or any other delicious treat.
Fresh or Frozen Strawberry Recipes
Here are some of our family’s favorite strawberry recipes:
- Greek Yogurt Strawberry Smoothie
- Strawberry Nutella Tart
- Strawberry Cobbler with Sugar Cookie Crust
- Strawberry Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans
So tend those strawberry plants like a pro and see a higher yield this season. I’d love to know if you’ve had success growing strawberries in your own back yard, and what is your favorite thing to do with them? Happy Gardening!
Tuesday 12th of February 2019
What can you do with chipmunk visitors in the strawberry patch?? :)
Wednesday 13th of February 2019
Great question, Nancy! If you plants are pretty low lying, as most are, you can drape bird/wildlife netting over your strawberry plants and gently tack down the corners with U-pins. This should take care of the problem. I've also seen "boxes" constructed of wood and chicken wire that can be placed on a raised bed, but that would obviously take more time and money. I hope this helps!
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