Strawberry plants are perennials that produce new runners and fruit each year for four or five years. They grow best in well-drained, rich soil with pH levels between 5.0 and 6.5. Strawberry plants need adequate water and nutrients so that they can store food for the next growing season. If weekly rainfall is less than 2.5 cm (1 inch) you will need to provide water. Before planting, buy a soil testing kit from your local garden centre. If necessary, add fertiliser high in potash and potassium to the soil for maximum fruit production.
During the first growth season, the mother plant forms runner plants. The runners spread out, take root in the surrounding soil, and form daughter plants. Arrange the runners so that there are five plants per 30 cm square (1 square foot) of soil in rows that are 30 cm (12 inches) wide. This limited number of runners will grow vigorously and produce multiple crowns with higher yields.
Different types of strawberry plants produce flowers at different times. June-bearing cultivars bloom once during the spring or summer. Day-neutral cultivars bloom several times each season, and everbearers bloom twice each season. A flower bud develops from a node on a flowering stem. To encourage runner development and root growth, remove flowers from June-bearing plants during the first season.
The timing of strawberry fruit set depends on the cultivar and weather conditions. Fruit ripening occurs 18 to 45 days after the flowers bloom. Plants that receive at least six hours of full sun will produce the highest yields. Some varieties are pink when they are ripe, and other varieties are red. The fruit will not ripen after it is removed from the plant.
Renovation consists of management practices such as fertilising and thinning the strawberry plants. Each year, cultivated strawberry plants require renovation in order to maintain vigorous growth and fruit production. Renovation should begin immediately after the final fruit harvest of the season. Apply a balanced complete fertiliser, unless soil tests indicate the need for high potash or potassium fertiliser. Mow the foliage to 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the crowns, and thin plants to five or six plants per plot. Water the plants immediately after renovation and make sure that the plants receive adequate water through September.
To ensure bud growth for the following season, do not allow plants to dry out during late summer and early autumn. Weed control is important for strawberry plant growth and yield. To prevent herbicide injury to your strawberry plants, control weeds by cultivating the soil. Before the first hard freeze, apply a 5 cm (2 inch) layer of mulch to protect the plants during their dormant period. Remove the mulch in the spring when new growth appears.
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