If you love strawberries, why not grow your own? Everbearing strawberries produce a continuous harvest of sweet medium sized berries from late spring until the first freeze of winter! They are a great option for every home gardener!
Strawberries are everyone’s favorite spring fruit.
However, this picture was actually taken August 29th. So how did we get this giant harvest of strawberries in August? By growing everbearing strawberries. Everbearing Strawberries have been a fantastic addition to our garden.
Why we grow our own Strawberries
We have grown strawberries on and off over the last 20 years, usually just a small patch tucked in a corner somewhere. A few years ago we learned that strawberries are number 3 on the dirty dozen list. This list was created by the USDA and tells us which produce carries the most pesticide exposure. Strawberries come in third to celery and peaches as the produce items with the most chemical residue. Sometime I’ll post the complete list, you’ll be surprised what’s on it.
We eat a bunch of strawberries around Stoney Acres. Between jam, pies, and fresh eating we put away a lot. So we decided we needed to up our strawberry production instead of trying to buy organic which is just crazy expensive.
We bought two varieties of everbearing strawberries from an online plant company. We decided to go with bare root plants. We planted 50 plants each of Ozark Beauty and Tribute the first of April. The total cost for the plants was around $29.00. The first year we picked a total of 25 lbs of strawberries from the two patches.
If you figure the cost at the store for regular strawberries averages about $2.00 a pound then they paid for themselves the first year. If you throw in the fact that our berries are 100% organic the cost at the store would be more like $4 a pound so we are way ahead now. So far this year we are at about 30 lbs. Right now we are averaging about 6 lbs a week so there is a good chance we could double last year’s production. We have two beds using about 100 square feet of total garden space.
Care of everbearing strawberries
Strawberries should ALWAYS be planted in the early spring (think March). Getting them in early in the spring gives the plants plenty of time to get their root system established before summers heat comes along. I wouldn’t recommend planting any other time of the year.
The first spring after planting you should remove all the blossoms until mid summer. This gives the plants a chance to focus on growth instead of berry production. Just like regular strawberries, everbearing strawberries bloom in May and are ready to start picking in early June. We have found that the June berries are a little smaller and more tart. The plants usually take most of the month of July off and berries are ready again the first of August. The summer and fall berries are over all sweeter and larger than the spring berries.
If you want to you can plan on offering the berries a little protection as the fall progresses. Some falls are warm for us but we still cover the berries after it finally cools off. Just use a piece of fabric row cover at night and remove it during the day. Doing this meant we were still picking strawberries on Halloween last year. We have found that quality of the berries really dropped off after about the 15th of October. The late October berries weren’t as good for fresh eating but we freeze them and use them for jam and smoothies all winter long.
When the really cold weather arrives in late October or early November you should cover your strawberries to protect them from the bitter winter cold. A layer of leaves or straw will do or you may want to cover them with a heavy row cover fabric if you don’t have a lot of snow.
Renewing Your Patch
Plan on replanting your everbearing strawberries in a new location about every 5 years. Strawberries are really rough on the soil they are planted in and draw out a lot of nutrients. After the fourth or fifth season they need to be removed and a new crop planted somewhere else in the garden. This takes a little advanced planning so think it through before you decide where to plant.
If you don’t want to buy new starts to replant you can always pot up and move the daughter plants that grow in the last year of your current patch. Simply bury a small pot under the daughter plant, when it is established with a good root system you can sever it from the mother plant and move it to the new bed.
Overall we have been really pleased with the addition of a big patch of everbearing strawberries to our garden. Even if you don’t eat as many as we do they are worth some space in your garden. You will be happy with even a 4 by 4 foot plot. Enjoy!!
Here are a couple of other posts that will help you with your strawberry growing adventure: