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How to garden tasty strawberries

Strawberries are an easy to grow fruit crop that will reward the home gardener with ample harvests for many years. With favourable conditions, each strawberry plant should produce one quart of strawberries. There are basically 3 types of strawberry plants to choose from: June bearing, Everbearing and Day Neutral. June Bearing strawberries produce a single, large crop per year during a 2 – 3 week period in the spring. June bearers are the traditionally grown plants, producing a single flush of flowers and many runners. They are classified into early, mid-season and late varieties. The largest fruits are generally from June bearing varieties. Everbearing strawberries produce two to three harvests of fruit intermittently during the spring, summer and fall. Everbearing plants do not send out many runners. Day Neutral strawberries will produce fruit throughout the growing season. These strawberries also produce few runners. Everbearing and day neutral strawberries are great when space is limited, but the fruits are usually somewhat smaller than June bearers. When you grow strawberries in your garden, you pick them when they are perfectly ripe. They are so perfectly ripe that the smell of the patch draws you from across the yard. That’s why I grow my own. You can too. Get some plants. Sure, you can buy plants. Better still, find a friend or neighbour with strawberry plants. You’ll be doing the favour. A strawberry patch generates lots of new plants, too many for its own good. Weed and thin. Strawberry plants are most productive when they’re not overcrowded. That means minimizing competition from weeds. And it means minimizing competition from other strawberry plants too. Keep a few runners, remove the rest. Strawberry plants send out runners, shoots that trail along the ground and form new plants. They start to grow after fruiting has finished in early summer. Runners are great because they fill in your bed and give you a constant supply of new plants. But…they choke out your patch if you’re not careful. Move the runners. Lift them, move them, and then put a rock over them to encourage them to grow where you think you need an additional plant. Rule of thumb: Avoid allowing plants to grow any closer than about six inches apart. Don’t forget the water. Good fruit formation and growth require that you supply adequate water from bloom time to the end of harvest. Rule of thumb: If it’s very hot and dry, water the patch well a couple times per week. Don’t forget next year. Flower bud formation for the following year occurs in late summer. Happy plants will make more flower buds for next year. So keep weeds under control, thin out your patch, and give it the occasional drink of water.

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