Strawberries are a low-growing perennial fruit that is easy to cultivate in gardens, and most varieties are aggressive spreaders. To maximize your production in the limited space permitted by most gardens, a careful gardener can greatly increase the production of even the smallest strawberry patch. Gardeners improve yields, extend the harvest, and invigorate their strawberry patch.
To improve yield gardeners can:
- Ensure that your plants are adequately water at all times. Strawberries have very shallow roots and are very sensitive to water privation. Therefore, gardeners should irrigate regularly; strawberries need about 1 to 2 inches of moisture each week.
Extend the fruit setting time
- Extend the fruit setting time by protecting your plants against frost. In the fall strawberries set fruit during cool/cold weather until frosted upon. Protecting your strawberry plants from frost with plastic tents or cold frame scan allow plants set fruit long before temperatures turn to cold.
Selecting and preparing strawberry bed site
- Properly selecting and preparing strawberry bed sites. Since strawberries are perennials they will be in a bed about three years before renovation becomes necessary, therefore, the correct site conditions will greatly impact yield. A site needs to be properly cultivated, have good drainage, have rich soil, be weed free, permit adequate sunlight and provide protection from pests and harsh weather. Strawberry beds should be situated where they can be easily irrigated.
Mulch strawberry plants
- Mulch plants with straw, newspapers or other organic material to retain moisture. Mulching also helps to keep plants clean and disease free.
- Keeping strawberries well weeded conserves moisture and soil nutrients. Keeping strawberries free of weeds aids in protecting the health of the plant and fruit produced.
Renovation of the strawberry patch
- Frequent and timely renovation of the strawberry patch can improve yields because older plants produce less fruit with age and concentrate on producing runners.
Extending the harvest season
- Extending the harvest season can make the strawberry patch more productive. Perhaps the easiest way to extend the harvest season is to purchase Day-Neutral strawberry plants that produce strawberries over a larger portion of the year helping to reduce wastage. Day-Neutral strawberries produce a small crop spaced over a longer period allow the garden to pace their preserving process and to use more fruit when fresh.
- Proper use of a winter cover mulch in cold climates allows the plant to produce earlier in the season when uncovered after the last hard frost and the strawberries grow more vigorously thereby getting an early start on achieving readiness to bloom and produce fruit.
- Use structures, raised beds, or plastic tents to shield or plants. In cool climates plant strawberries on the south face of the house to provide a better habitat Planting on the south face of the house provide more sun earlier in the season and more warmth in the fall and winter.
- Planting on both the north and sides of a structure can provide the best of both worlds. The plants on the southern face of the structure or using plastic tents will warm plants that will produce earlier in the season, and those on the northern face of the house will remain cooler in late spring and early summer and therefore will produce fruit later into the year.