–Karline Jensen, High Rocks, Hillsboro, WV Quite a few of our gardeners want to grow strawberries this year, so we are buying 250 strawberry plants from one of our gardeners who is starting a greenhouse business https://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Levels-Greenhouse/1553613654883324. She has them growing in pots, so they will have a head start over the bare-rooted plants you can mail order, and we can plant them whenever we are able to get the ground ready.
Early spring is the best time to put out strawberry plants. Right now we are in that season of waiting until the ground can be worked. There have been a couple days here and there that the soil has dried out enough to till after the last of the snow finally disappeared. We have all been trying to make the most of those days! Last night we had another torrential downpour, so it will be a few more before the next opportunity.
It is important to prepare your strawberry beds well, since they are a perennial crop. You will be weeding them for the next three to five years before you finally decide to till them under and start over in a new location, so you want to start out as weed free as possible. It is best to put them in an area of the garden that has been well established over several years of adding organic matter and nutrients so you know it has what it needs to produce a good crop.
It is recommended to space the plants at least one foot apart in rows at least three feet apart. Drip tape will make it easier to provide 1-2 inches of water each week through the growing season. You might want to plan to cover the plants with row covers to keep them warmer when it goes below 20, and to keep the flowers from freezing when we get late frosts. Straw mulch will help to keep the berries clean and suppress weeds.
I hope you grow so many that you can’t eat them all at once and you have to freeze them or make strawberry jam. Yum!