Most everyone knows best, on how to grow strawberries. Depending on where that everyone resides, there are absolute rules of engagement for producing sweeter, larger and redder strawberries. Not wishing to engage in mental fisticuffs with local experts, I will mosey through the mundane aspects of growing and caring for the only fruit that has its seeds on the outside.
Soil preparation is mightily important and I urge readers to now raise their microorganism antennae. Strawberries are often soil-borne, fruit and foliage harbingers of disease. Think prophylactic. Think early prophylactic. Well drained, high organic matter content, sandy loam soils with high fertility is the order of the day for growing strawberries. Also include, for consideration, low saline or alkaline and water with a pH 7.5 or below, as strawberry friendly. Use BioFlora Soil Source as an intregal part of the soil preparation. This liquid organic humic acid product will improve the soil’s organic matter content, enable an increase in both water and nutrient holding capacity and is a food source for beneficial microorganisms, increasing their numbers and diversity. These bacterial animals are responsible for services to plants that include, nutrient recycling, water dynamics and, ta-da, plant disease suppression. Apply this “black gold liquid” as a soil amendment through drip tape all season and through micro-sprinklers, pre-fruit set. It works great on strawberry runners production.
I leave personal planting choices to choosing from double-row beds, single-row beds, matted plots, strawberry barrels or pyramids. Buying local plants can remove the possibility of attempting to purchase out-of-state varieties that may have quarantine issues. Your state Department of Agriculture will be able to assist with pertinent information.
When to plant will depend on growing zones (elevation) and suitable varieties for those zones. Plant spacing is generally 12 inches apart in a row. Plants may be spaced 3 feet apart in rows with “runners” placed between plants to establish a solid planting. Depth of planting is very important. Set the crown (where leaves are attached) so it is level with the soil surface after settling. Press the soil firmly around the roots so no air spaces are left. Irrigate immediately. Two helpful hints for this stage of planting begs for the use of three BioFlora products. When you are holding the transplants in the field in a tray or shallow pan be sure to maintain root moisture by spritzing the transplants with water containing 1 oz. of BioFlora Seaweed Creme plus 1 oz. of BioFlora Soil Source in a gallon of water. When irrigating after firmly pressing the soil around the transplant, have a soil drench ready, consisting of 1 oz. of BioFlora Plantalizer 1-2-1 plus 1 oz. of BioFlora Soil Source in a gallon of water. Repeat this mix once every two weeks for the remainder of the season. Plastic mulch is often laid previous to planting, for weed control.
Irrigation of strawberries should be frequent, but light. Most roots are found in the top 18″ of soil and remember the disease-fighting bacteria are mostly in the top 4-6 inches. Fertilize with BioFlora Dry Crumbles 8-3-6 + 6% Ca where it is possible to incorporate the product into the soil. Covering the crumbles will lessen the loss of nitrogen through volatilization. Cultivation should be often enough to control weeds (unless plastic mulch is in place) being careful as the plants are shallow-rooted.
The big four diseases are usually Botrytis (fruit), Pythium (soil), Fusarium (soil) and Rhizoctonia (soil). All four are suppressed by good, gardening cultural practices and spoon-feeding (small amounts, numerous times, instead of one or two large applications) the beneficial microbial population. Diseases are always present in soil, water and air. Keep the good guys in high numbers and diversity and begin with that early prophylactic application. One-and-done does not work for disease suppression.
Arthropod pests might include lygus bugs and spider mites (piercing-sucking) and flower thrips (chewing) and can, at times, be very disconcerting. Hit all of these sap/juice feeders with 2-3 oz. of BioFlora Seaweed Crème in a quart of water. The viscous nature of the seaweed will clog their breathing apertures (spiracles). So long “suckers”! Now, for some fresh, delicious strawberry shortcake with dollops of heavy, whipped cream. Yummy!!