Square Foot Gardening: Growing Strawberries
Strawberries make a great square foot gardening crop. They're easy to grow, need little maintenance, and produce a bountiful harvest. Here are some things to consider when planting strawberries in a square foot garden.
Types Of Strawberries To Use In Square Foot Gardening
There are three basic types of strawberries: June-bearing, everbearing and day neutral. They can all be grown in square foot gardening boxes. Everbearing strawberries produce fruit twice during the growing season, while June-beariing ones bear fruit in the month of June. Day neutral strawberries are a variety that is not affected by how long the day is, as the other two are.
June-bearing strawberries produce the largest fruit and send out many runners. Everbearing and day neutral do not send out as many runners.
Strawberries need a good 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. They also prefer a fertile and well-drained soil in order to produce abundant yields. The soil can be amended with 1 to 2 inches of a good organic material such as compost.
Water 1 to 2 inches per week, especially during the time fruit is blooming. This period is from early bloom to end of harvest. Weed throughout the growing season, as strawberries can easily be strangled by invasive weeds.
Planting 4 Per Square Foot
When calculating the number of strawberry plants for a square foot garden, some gardeners like to use one per square. According to the originator of the concept, and the author of Square Foot Gardening, Mel Bartholomew, it’s best to place 4 plants per square foot. Use one per square foot only if runners will be permitted to remain. Otherwise, plant 4 per square.
Some gardeners like to utilize the entire 4-foot by 4-foot square foot garden just for growing strawberries. Other gardeners like to plant their strawberries in a pyramid tower that’s constructed from aluminum or wood. While these can be purchased commercially, they’re easy enough to make, especially with kits which are also available for gardeners.
Trimming All Runners
All types of strawberries produce runners – and they should all be trimmed off whenever they appear each and every week. The reason? By trimming strawberry runners, the energy remains in the original, or parent, plant and yields are increased for each year’s harvest.
After a few years (about 3 to 4) of growing strawberries in square foot gardening, the parent plant’s harvest starts to decrease. At that time, it’s best to remove the old parent plants and purchase new ones from the nursery.
Why not just let the runners grow and turn them into parent plants? Runners will produce too many small strawberry plants, and the harvest will be consequently reduced. Start fresh in year 5 with new strawberry plants.
Don’t Forget To Fertilize
Square foot gardening doesn’t mean skimping on fertilizer for strawberry plants. Use a 10-10-10 mixture or feed them once a month with blood meal and bone meal.
It only takes one successful harvest to convince the home gardener the benefits of growing strawberries using square foot gardening. Why not get started today?