Location: Strawberries do best in an area with full sun, good air circulation, and good drainage. Avoid areas with known nematode and root weevil problems, as well as old strawberry beds, and areas consistently planted with potatoes or tomatoes. These beds may be infected with verticillium wilt or any number of other fungi or viruses that can trouble your new crop.
Soil: Soil for strawberry beds should be rich and well draining. Most soil in this area improves by working in a thick layer of compost and about 4 lbs of bone meal or Territorial’s Complete Fertilizer per 100 sq. ft.
Planting: The two most popular ways to lay out the growing area are the “Hill System” and the “Matted Row.” In the “Hill System” the plants are set 12” apart in raised beds usually with 2 rows each. Runners may grow into the planting row, but not the aisles- or the area between the beds. This method produces premium fruit. To use the “Matted Row,” plant every 2’ in rows that are 3’ apart. This spacing allows rows to fill in with runners while keeping the aisles for picking. Whichever method you choose, plant your starts with care. Fan out the roots in the planting hole with all the roots below the soil. Do not bury the central leaf bud. Pack soil firmly around plants and be sure they are kept moist.
Growing: Blossoms on June bearing plants should be pinched off the first year. Pinch off blossoms on Everbearers should be pinched off only during the first 2 months that they bloom. Blossom-pinching diverts energy to plant development, making a good strong plant with a large, healthy yield. Pinch runners of both types of strawberries for as long as possible to establish strong mother plants.
Pests: Root weevil, aphids and slugs are the main insect pests on strawberries. Follow manufacturers directions for pesticides, being especially careful around harvest time.
Cleanup: Fall cleanup and fertilizing are highly recommended. A thorough cleaning of the beds reduces the chance of fungus or disease problems, and makes the area less suitable for insects that winter over in this area. Use a power mower for large plantings, with the blade set on high. On small plantings, simply use clippers. Fertilize with a side dressing of complete fertilizer or steer manure and bone meal.
Final tips: As difficult as it may be, you should destroy the patch after the fourth year. Beyond this point plants will usually lose vigor and become very susceptible to damage caused by fungus, virus, and root weevil. Plan ahead and plant a new crop the third year in a different location. This method provides you with a continual harvest.