The succulent, sweetness of a vine-ripened strawberry from your own garden cannot compare with the taste of store-bought strawberries that are often picked green. You can grow one plant in a container or on an apartment balcony or cultivate a whole gardenful. Knowing how to look after your strawberry plants will ensure you get the best-tasting and most bountiful crop possible.
Prepare your soil. Strawberry plants produce best in their first five years in most locations. Start them out in a sandy loam with compost mixed in. This type of soil will give good drainage for your strawberry plants.
Wait until the last frost has passed before planting your strawberry plants. Planting too early risks the chance of killing the plants if temperatures become too cold. Plant in an area that receives full sun.
Water frequently during hot weather spells and during the fruit production period, about 2 to 3 inches per week (see Tips section for how to measure the amount of water). On the other hand, overwatering or leaving plants in standing water can cause root rot.
Weed regularly around your strawberry plants. If weeds have a chance to overtake the plants, it could cause a declining strawberry harvest in future years.
Fertilise just once after harvest. This will feed the plant to ensure a good crop the following year. Use a balanced mixture, such as 10-10-10 at a ratio of 1 cup per 10-foot row. A balanced fertiliser contains equal parts of the three most common nutrients---nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Your soil is too claylike if you bunch it in your hand and it makes clods that do not break apart easily. Purchase gardener's sand from your local nursery or garden centre to mix in the soil to get a sandy loam. To measure how much water is going onto your garden, place a coffee can or other container in the middle of your plants while the sprinkler is watering them. Time the watering, and when there are 2 to 3 inches of water in the can, you will know how long to leave the sprinkler on next time.
Chlorosis (iron deficiency) commonly results if you overwater strawberry plants. It is characterised by small, yellow leaf growth and/or brown leaf edges with purple tinting. Reduce watering.