Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Small Fruits & Berries
Care and Harvest of Strawberries (page 2 of 2)
by National Gardening Association Editors
Renovating the Bed
Here are the basics in renovating an existing strawberry bed.
1. Just after harvest, cut off all the leaves with a scythe, sickle, or lawnmower set high enough not to hit the crowns.
2. Turn under the two daughter plants on either side of each mother row (preferably with a tiller), which should leave a 6-inch- wide row.
3. Add a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 (1/2 pound per 25-foot row) to the bed and get rid of all weeds. Thin the plants to stand 9 inches apart, leaving only the strongest ones.
4. Allow only two runners from each plant; set each runner 9 inches from the mother plant on either side.
5. Side-dress with 2 1/2 pounds of 5-10-10 or its equivalent per 100 feet of row.
6. Apply winter mulch as before. Await spring and your second - and somewhat smaller - harvest.
Harvesting Your Berries
In the second year, the berries will ripen about 1 month after the plants bloom, with the bigger berries developing at the center of each cluster. To harvest, don't squeeze a ripe berry; pinch the stem behind it with your thumbnail. Every 2 or 3 days, pick all the ripe berries. Avoid picking green-tipped berries - they're not fully ripe. They'll taste much better in a day or two. Don't leave berry remnants on the plants because they encourage plant rot. You can expect 2 to 3 weeks of harvesting for each variety. If you find yourself deluged by berries, you can make them into jam or freeze them.