How To Grow Plump, Juicy Strawberries

Growing this delicious treat will be one of your easiest garden tasks this summer.

June 13, 2016
Mitch Mandel

Learning How To Eat Organic Fruit On A Budget can be a challenge, but growing organic strawberries can be a breeze this summer with the right tools and prep work.

1. Choose the right spot. Prepare a weed-free site that gets 8 to 10 hours of strong sunlight per day, and add well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 6.2. To avoid verticillium wilt, don't plant in sites where raspberries, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, or past strawberries have grown before. Early spring planting is customary in most areas, but for regions with warm winters, like California and Florida, autumn planting is recommended.


Related: If You Have To Choose Between Local And Organic, Which Is Better?

2. Space them out. Grow June Bearers on raised beds in rows 3 to 4 feet apart with 18 to 24 inches between plants within the rows. Hills 10 to 18 inches apart, planted with single plants, are best for Everbearers, Day Neutrals, and June Bearers in hot and humid climates. All species of strawberries need at least 1 inch of water per week at the root zone. Renovate rows after harvest by reducing their width to 12 inches, covering plants with 2 inches of compost, and apply a soluble organic fertilizer after renovation.

Related: Meet Your New Favorite Strawberry Shortcake

3. Watch for insects and diseases. The Tarnished Plant Bug is the main fruit-feeding nemesis of strawberries. However, plant decline can also be caused by root-feeding white grubs, like beetle larvae, and nematodes. Viruses, which can be spread by aphids, often affect plants that are weakened by unfavorable growing conditions. Gray mold is the number one disease enemy of strawberry fruit. Anthracnose can devastate plantings in hot, humid areas and leather rot, which causes an insipid berry taste you won't forget, is a sporadic problem on susceptible varieties when fruit comes in contact with damp soil. Red stele, a soilborne fungus, can be avoided by choosing resistant varieties.

Related: 10 Most Destructive Garden Insects And How To Get Ride Of Them

4. Harvest your crop. Ripe berries appear about 30 days after bloom, and once the berry is fully red, let your taste buds be your final guide on when to harvest. (If you're planning to enjoy your harvest immediately after picking, try plopping a few strawberries into one of the 9 Spicy Fruit Salsas You'll Want To Eat All Summer Long.)

Pick every two to three days in mild climates or daily in very hot weather and keep the green caps attached to each berry. In order to preserve flavor and shelf life if you don't plan on eating your harvest right away, pick into a shallow, paper towel lined container, no more than three or four layers of berries deep. Refrigerate immediately after picking, and then hull and wash just before serving.