Over the years it did not occur to me to write about planting strawberries as they have always been in our home garden and I thought everyone would know how to grow them. Strawberries are a favourite fun superfood to grow for yourself, your kids and grandchildren and a sure way to know that you are eating fresh organic produce. Strawberries have an incredible sweet taste and of course there are never enough to eat fresh or use in desserts or make jam. The plants make a great border on both your vegetable and flower garden if you do not have enough space for a permanent strawberry patch. Strawberries are a very forgiving fruit to grow and quite frankly their juicy sweet taste make it well worth while.
Strawberry Varieties to grow
A bonus to strawberry growing is that they are perennial which means they come up every year – which is amazing when some winters here and further north they are covered for months by heavy snow. So that is another bonus ~ they can be grown in many areas and climates in Canada as they are winter hardy. There are lots of varieties and choices so check with your local nursery and select one which suits your growing area.
How and what Varieties to grow
- We only buy everbearing varieties such as Everlasting or Eversweet both robust varieties
- The most prolific and bushy variety we grow in our Lower Mainland garden seems to be Seascape
- If a friend or neighbour is thinning their strawberry patch (from runners) this is a great way to start your patch
- Keep healthy runners to start new strawberries each year (if you do this every year you will continuously have new producing plants)
- Remove other runners so that the plants energy goes to producing flowers and fruit
- Strawberries produce well for several years
When and where to plant your Strawberry Patch
- If you can plant in the fall that is great as the plants will have more time to set roots before the spring growing and flowering begins
- Strawberries need several hours of sun each day to fruit but will tolerate partial shade
- Plant strawberries in soil rich in compost
- Follow planting directions on label – if growing in a raised bed there is no need to plant in rows
- It is important to plant strawberries to the crown and not too deep in the soil
- The plants do not like to get their “feet” wet so well-drained soil is a must
- Important to fertilize monthly
- Use a mulch to keep roots moist and fruit clean
- Cover with loose straw once snow flies in the fall (2 to 4 inches deep) and remove in the following spring
- We have grown strawberries very successfully in a variety of containers over the years in compost rich soil and with a mulch
Diseases of Strawberry plants
- There are some but if you have compost rich soil and a healthy garden environment they should grow vigorously
- Strawberries and members of the cabbage family do not do well planted together
- Pick strawberries immediately after a rain to prevent rot or mold (okay to discard fruit to the compost)
Sadly one of the most toxic pesticides / fumigants, methyl iodide, a toxic fumigant is used in commercial agriculture on the delightful strawberry. This chemical has been named “the most toxic chemical on earth”. Strawberries are one fruit on the short list of foods to buy organically grown. Better still grow your own.
Nutrition & other information
Strawberries are a low-calorie and low cholesterol fruit. It is also a great source of Vitamin C with lots of antioxidants, phosphorus and potassium.
Strawberries are an important, and easy to grow, home crop. In light of the toxic chemicals used on this fruit when commercially grown it is well worth the effort. If you are not able to grow your own, it is highly recommended that only organic strawberries be purchased, preferably from your local farmers market, so you can chat with the grower and ask what, if any, chemicals have been used on the crop.
Having just planted 40 ever bearing plants which have both flowers and fruit we are hoping for a bumper crop this year. First ripe fruits eaten mid May. A not very demanding little fruit which delivers a delightful flavour and a rewarding plant to grow.
Update May, 2016:
Strawberries are #1 on the 2016 Dirty Dozen pesticide guide list for fruit and vegetables
- In northern British Columbia, I recall we had problems with field mice wintering over in the strawberry mulch under the snow
- I would not personally try to grow strawberry plants from seed but if you would like a challenge and have the time check out the seed catalogue companies in your area for “how to” do this
- It is easier to grow strawberry plants in their own raised bed to cover and protect from birds
- Strawberries are a member of the rose family as are blackberries and raspberries