Venomous_1
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1st Time Strawberries in TN

Hello all. I consider myself a fairly experienced vegetable gardener, but so badly want to try strawberries this year. I am seeking some advice on planting locations and types. I've heard that they are better in raised bed boxes.

Also, can anyone shed some light on rumors? For instance, I've heard that strawberries don't produce until the 2nd or 3rd year. Is that true? And I've heard that you souldn't grow them in the same place each year.

I've done quite a bit of reading about them, but I think that confused me even more. So I want to hear from those who have actual experience growing them.

Please bestow your experienced advice... :?

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hendi_alex
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There are at least four different kinds of strawberries. I'm pretty familiar with two of the groups and will mention the other two groups but could have some misconceptions because of limited experience and research related to them. The two groups that I've grown are the June bearing such as Surecrop, Sparkle, Earliglow and ever bearing such as Ogalla and Ozark Beauty. The instructions will tell you to pick off the blossoms that first year, but IMO that is nonsense. I've never plucked a single blossom, and the first year plants have always produced a modest harvest of berries, and have grown vigorously, producing many runners and new plants.

June bearing produce one large crop over a relatively short period of two or three weeks in the late spring or early summer. The everbearing produce a trickle of fruit all through the summer and into the fall. While I've never had much of a problem with pests on June bearing berries, other than a few pesky birds, sometimes pill bugs and a few other insects will nibble on the July and August fruit produced by the everbearing varieties.

Two groups that I've never grown are the day neutral and the Alpine strawberries. It appears to me that the alpine berries are more like the wild American strawberries. The fruit is small and very tasty. The plants have no or very limited disease resistance and are not likely a good candidate for the deep south. Just from having done some brief reading, day neutral appear to just be another type of everbearing, but one that puts out a more continuous crop of berries throughout the entire summer.

I would recommend that you start with a bed of June bearers because they will reward you with a decent harvest the first year, and they are very vigorous growers that will fill the bed in with fresh plants from runners during the first season. Perhaps you will want to try 25 Ogalla or Ozark Beauty's as well, just for that little snack during the summer as you walk the yard. I'm expanding my strawberry production from one raised bed to three or four this year, plus have ordered one batch of ever bearing plants to place in containers on my deck. Thought it would be nice to walk out on the deck and pick a small handfull of berries through the summer.

Good luck with your decision and your new berry patch.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Venomous_1
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Beds/Containers

Thanks Alex. I was extremely confused before. I think I want to go with the June bearing, but when you talked about growing some ever bearing in a container on your porch, you had me there too.

Can I grow the June bearing in the garden with everything else or do they need their own raised bed? IYO? Gotta a pic of your raised beds that you talk about?

How big of a container do I need to grow the ever bearing in? I've got a huge deck (multi-tiered) and strawberries on the deck sounds like a great idea. Sounds like something I could start indoors soon. More info please?

Thanks again...Richard in TN

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hendi_alex
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Strawberries have to have their own bed, but I am planting some around one or two raspberry plants in the same raised bed. To start with you will likely buy 25 plants that will take up somewhere around 4' x 6' of space. During the second half of the summer, the plants will begin to send out runners. Pinch off all exept 2-4 runners per plant. Also once a runner starts rooting, it will send out its own runner. Pinch those off as well. I try to place those new plants in open spaces between existing plants, so that individuals don't get too crowded. Since strawberry plants form a perennial bed, weeds can be a real aggravation. So limit the size of your first bed, and stay on top of weeding, keeping the bed nice and clean. Mulch the plants in late fall, and fertilize in late winter/early spring.

Strawberry plants can be planted as one, two or a few, in planters. I've decided to go the planter route on the deck, because last time the bugs got to be a problem with the ever bearers when placed in the ground. You can plant any of the strawberry types in beds and you can plant any of them in planters. Which ever route or if both routes, be sure to keep excess runners pinched back so that the planting area does not get over crowed. If the idea of maintenance bothers you, then put down landscape fabric and cut slits where you wish to plant the berries. Place a slit at each location that you want a runner to set a new plant. Mulch with straw or other suitable material, and your berry patch will be very low maintenance without any need for weeding.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Venomous_1
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Alright Alex. You got me going now. Built me a new 4'x6' raised bed and 12" deep. Filled it in with some good soil and plan to cover it with black plastic for a week or two before planting to warm up the soil. My intent is to cut slits when I plant to reduce weeds and maintain temperature.

Should I add any spice (i.e. fertilizer, etc.) to the soil before covering? Any other tips?

Thanks...Richard in TN

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hendi_alex
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Strawberry plants are heavy feeders so a good dose of a slow release like osmocote would be good, or a perhaps a blend of organic additives if that is your preference.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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hendi_alex
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Strawberries and raspberries off to a good start in the new beds. Both beds and plants enjoying their first season. Planted 160 new strawberry plants in addition to one established bed that had 25 plants last year.

New beds:

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3552/3396719238_03f85776e0.jpg[/img]

New plants have been in the bed about three weeks.

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3569/3395907647_97e68e4a89.jpg[/img]
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

damethod
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Looking good Alex

A few words about alpine strawberries...the berries are tiny and tart.. not worth growing in my opinion. The birds don't even bother with them!

I've grown a seqouia and a quinalt strawberry plant. Neither were sweet enough for my liking.

That being said, what strawberry would you consider to be THE sweetest.

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applestar
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Wow Alex, you're planting them pretty close! Your beds are 4' wide right?
I imagine they'll fill in pretty quickly. I had to chuckle, reading about your 160 new plants. I remember you posted that you accidentally ordered 75 more. I started 75 new plants too, but it took me 2 weeks to get the last of them planted! ("What was I thinking?!" :roll: :wink: ) I kept the roots wrapped in wet brown paper, but since they were in the garage to keep them safe from freezing temps, the leaves were turning pretty pale towards the end. I ran out of ideas for places to plant, and ended up potting up the last 1/2 dozen or so in 4" pots, to be decided later. :lol:

One other type I want to mention is the native strawberry Fragaria virginiana I have a bed of them that basically started growing on their own (bird offering, probably) in a largish island bed planted with low-growing Japanese Maple trees. They'd spread every year until the entire open area was groundcovered with them. It's really great. The kids love the berries -- intensely flavorful when picked at the right time: red and glossy. They are "June bearers".

Alpine strawberries -- I USED to have them until my MIL decided to "help" and weeded them out on a hot day -- by the time I realized, they'd been laying out in the sun and were too limp to recover. They don't spread by runners, so they are often recommended for planters and small beds, or to line the front of the walkway.

I decided to buy more plants this year so my kids can enjoy a longer strawberry season as well as because they LOVE finding BIG strawberries. Wild strawberries only get as big as the end of your finger -- end of MY thumb if you're lucky, but I have little hands. So although personally, I wanted to get some Alpines, I ended up getting the Stark Red Giant, Sweet Charley, and Tristar (recommended Day Neutral for North East areas). I snuck some of the Red Giants among the Virginianas on the Japanese Maple Island. Can't wait to see the kids' reactions when they find them. :wink:

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hendi_alex
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I'm trying several new varieties (new to me) this year. Will likely reject some. Very few runners will be allowed to root in the current beds. Will root runners in gallon pots and then work toward establishing more permanent beds after this year. Will most likely end up with somewhere between four and six 4 x 4 strawberry beds. The current plantings are a bit too crowded, but will do fine for a season or two, as we decide which berries will make the cut.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Venomous_1
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Yeah. Those bed are looking rather good Alex. I built a raised 4x6 some time back, filled with good soil, mixed in some compost and Osmocote and covered with plastic. Been sitting (brewing) for about 2-3 weeks now so should be ready when we get his last (DANG!!!) frost out of the way tomorrow. AAAARRRGGGG!!!

I plan on putting 20 plants in this 4x6 bed and keeping the runners to a bare minimum.

After the plans get up and going, should I mulch around them? What is your opinion?

kylie77
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Hendi Alex

WOW, you sure have a lot of plants. Makes me feel a bit silly with my 7 new strawberry plants now! lol I have about 10 started from seed I think once I thin them out. I had asked for advice on how many would be about right for a family of 5 who LOVE strawberries, and they told me 5 or 6 would be good. I got an extra one to be safe! The ones I bought are june bearers, and the seedlings are everbearing. I sure wish I had more space! I'd go crazy with fruit and veg!

brandi
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Alex

I am very interested in your strawberry beds.....I have about 1000 plants that we put in a couple years ago and I have always wondered about raised beds. Could you explain how you built them and what you put in them to set them up for the plants. Now you need to explain it to me well as I really have been learning as I go. Also when i set this up I could transplant the ones I have growing now after they stop bearing fruit right? Does this way cut down on bugs and such-what kind of dirt would you suggest? See I have lots of questions!!

Thank you
Brandi

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hendi_alex
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Here is a record of the construction of the new beds.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11955&highlight=
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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applestar
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Here is our first harvest of Fragaria virginiana. You'll see a mid-sized cultivated berry (I think this was a Sweet Charlie) in the top right corner. First picking of F. virginiana is always the biggest so the berry size will drop off from here on to no bigger than the tip joint of a finger.
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image4284.jpg[/img]
... about 2 quarts worth. I managed to freeze 1 quart. The rest disappeared :wink: My 10 yr old and 7 yr old's consensus is that these wild strawberries taste SO MUCH BETTER than the new big strawberries (which, if you remember, I planted 75 plants of for their benefit over two weeks back in med-March :roll: ) They do love picking the strawberries, and they eat as much of the big strawberries as the wild ones.

Now we have mulberries starting to ripen, too. I had an inspiration -- since they're mostly up high where we can't reach and the birds are all over them, I've spread floating covers (which I'm no longer needing elsewhere in the garden) under the tree. Since the ripest berries easily drop off, the birds and squirrels are knocking them down onto the white sheets for us. All we have to do is go out occasionally and collect them! 8)

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