I started gardening in 1990, many moons ago when we first moved to Squamish.
I’d grown up in a family that loved being outside and loved to grow. I couldn’t wait for my first home (an apartment actually) to start putting down roots and growing things.
First on my list were strawberries. I grew them in pots on my balcony and, in my mind, nothing tastes better than a sun-warmed strawberry freshly picked from your own plant.
These wonderfully tasty berries are actually pretty easy to grow and if you don’t already have them in your plant repertoire, I highly suggest you add them.
You can grow strawberries in pots, gardens or even hanging baskets. Strawberries belong to the fragaria genus and each plant grows about six inches tall. The three main varieties of strawberry are ever-bearing, June-bearing and alpine.
June-bearing strawberries are sometimes known as spring-bearing. They are the first to respond to longer periods of daylight and shortened nights by producing flowers that turn to juicy berries in late spring/early summer.
Many people maintain that June-bearing types produce the sweetest berry, and I tend to agree.
Ever-bearing strawberries are sometimes called “day neutral” types, and produce a smaller, ongoing parade of berries in summer through to fall. This type of berry tends to produce the most fruit in the first year and, while delicious, may not be as wonderful as the June-bearing type.
I remember finding alpine strawberries in France in the local markets and they were known as fraise de bois.
They produce a much smaller berry than North American standards, but the taste is incredible and reminds you of how a strawberry should be. They are day-neutral and produce prolifically in late summer. This type doesn’t usually produce runners, but will self-seed to propagate themselves.
There is an alpine strawberry that is usually just ornamental so make sure you are getting the right plant.
Plant any strawberry variety in a full sun location, but you have to make sure they are well-irrigated. They love a rich, moist, well-draining soil and if you have raised beds, even better. I usually amend my strawberry bed once a year with well rotted compost, manure or sea soil.
The plants like to have good air circulation around each plant. Aim for 12 to 24 inches between plants. And, although they are perennial, returning year after year, they tend to decline in production after three or four years.
For a healthy crop, replace plants as they die out with new ones.
Most varieties propagate themselves by sending out runners from the mother plant. Let these runners take root, and then cut them away from the mother plant (toss out the mother plant ) and let the new runner plants take over.
Growing strawberries is relatively easy and the pay off is huge. Juicy, delicious berries are right outside your door. Try growing a few different varieties.
If you don’t already grow them, I highly encourage you to put in a few plants.