Strawberries are so much fun and will give your family memories for years. Strawberries are perennials in South Louisiana, so plant them this year for a good harvest. And leave them in the garden for great harvests in the following years. Strawberries can be left in the garden for up to 4 or 5 years then replaced with new plants, or they can be removed every summer if your space is limited.
- Plant strawberries in November for spring harvest.
- Plant at least 25 plants for a good harvest.
- Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in spring.
- Strawberries are shallow rooted with only about a 3” deep root system.
- There are 103 varieties of strawberries in the world, but in Louisiana, we only plant a handful that grow well here and give us lots of berries.
- Space strawberries 12” apart for best results.
Plant in a space that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Plant in containers or raised beds for best results, and always plant more than you think you need because the birds will beat you to them. Plant strawberries 12” apart in deep holes covering all roots with soil. (See graphic on previous page for planting depth.)
After planting make sure to water them in and saturate the soil. Consider watering every day for the first week. You might notice bare-root plants shedding some of their original foliage and that look horrible. Don’t worry. It will be replaced soon by new growth from the crown.
Don’t forget to mulch your berries immediately!!
Preparing Your Soil For Strawberries
Great soil is the key to growing any fruit or vegetable, but strawberries are especially needy when it comes to how they like to grow. We know they are the “crazy ex-girlfriend” in the garden. Strawberries can’t be fed enough, but the soil must be properly amended first to get the berries off to a good start. A week before planting berries, add a 1-2” layer of finished compost or worm castings and mix into the top 2-3” of soil. Then mix in a thin layer of blood meal. This will give your strawberries plenty of nutrients to get them started. Strawberries are heavy feeders, so they need to start in a soil that is nutrient rich.
Note: Do not add fresh manure to strawberry soil. It has too much nitrogen and will yield you plants with no berries.
Be On The Look Out For Runners
Remove the Runners
This is a wild child garden secret that will keep your berries producing fruit instead of plants. Strawberries like to clone themselves, so they will spend their energy on their reproductive efforts, producing dozens of daughter plans if left alone. And all of those plants keep you from getting berries. Be sure to watch for runners and snip them as soon as possible. The plants will give you lots more berries this way!
Finally, it is time to pick some berries. You’ve worked hard. Usually, the first strawberries will appear in March, but if we have had a mild winter, they may appear earlier than that.
Once production begins, make sure that there is a thick layer of mulch in your beds for the berries to rest on. Never let a berry touch the soil or it will rot. Pick ripe berries every other morning.
This will allow less of it to go to wildlife. Although “the early bird does get the worm” you can get some too if you harvest early in the day and often. Harvest fruit when it is fully mature, and try not to rip the fruit from the plant. Instead, pinch it off, leaving a small stem. Bring a large bowl to the garden to place the fruit into, but be careful not to stack the fruit too deep to avoid bruising the berries. Only wash berries prior to eating. Washing them and then storing in the refrigerator will initiate molding. Store berries in the refrigerator immediately after harvest.
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