Grow Gallons of Strawberries

Last updated 04/8/2021 |

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You can grow amazing strawberries this year! These easy tips will show you: which kinds will give you the best harvest; the right sun, water, and soil for strawberries; and how to keep bugs away.

hands holding strawberries

With two ravenous kids, strawberries are so popular around here that they’re practically considered a food group. We eat them right off the plant; we make strawberry freezer jam, strawberry popsicles, strawberry lemonade, strawberry fruit leather, strawberry shortcake…you get the picture.

From years of experience, here are my best tips for growing strawberries in your garden.

Are you a brand new gardener? Not sure what to plant and how to plant it? I can help. Check out the Ultimate Beginning Gardener Bundle and you'll have a great garden in no time!

wicker basket full of vegetables

Strawberry Varieties

There are three main varieties of strawberries: everbearing (also called day-neutral), June-bearing (also called short-day), and alpine.

Everbearing produce from spring through fall; June-bearing produce a large crop in spring; and alpine strawberries fruit intermittently all summer. If you’re growing strawberries for strawberry freezer jam, you’ll want to plant a June-bearing variety so they all come ripe at once.

Some alpine strawberries are white or cream colored, and have a more tropical flavor than the traditional strawberry. Some kids love this and some think it’s weird, so be prepared!

Tip 1: Plant both everbearing and June-bearing strawberries so you have enough for jam and to eat fresh all summer.

hand holding giant strawberry

Sun, Water, Soil for Growing Strawberries

Choose a sunny area for your strawberries, because they need at least 6 hours of sun per day. We planted ours in a corner of the yard near the path to the front door. Every time the kids walk by, they grab a strawberry to munch on.

Strawberry plants need lots of water, but the berries can spoil if they sit on the wet ground. Drip lines or soaker hoses are great, as is watering first thing in the morning. Keep an eye on the soil so the roots don’t get soggy. If you’re growing berries in pots, check daily to make sure the soil hasn’t dried out.

Strawberry plant with support underneath

I confess that I laughed when my dad bought me a box of these strawberry support gizmos…but now I’m completely sold. They keep the berries off the ground, make it easier to weed, and they help keep the snails and slugs away.

You put the two pieces together around the plant, so you can use them even if you’ve already planted. As you can see, each plant will produce multiple strawberries--so you're well on your way to growing gallons of strawberries just with a few plants.

Tip 2: Keep your strawberries dry and bug-free with strawberry supports.

Strawberries are pretty hearty and don’t need fancy stuff added to the soil. Before planting, I till the soil with my lightweight electric tiller and add a little homemade compost.

If your soil contains a lot of clay and doesn’t drain well, it will be easier to grow your strawberries in a container. Use a couple bags of my favorite organic potting soil and you’ll be ready to go.

Planting & Spacing Strawberries

Some types of strawberries can be grown from seed but if you have eager strawberry eaters, starts from the nursery are a better choice. If you start from seed, you won’t have strawberries until next year. <sad trombone>

There are three ways to plant strawberries—in rows, hills, and containers. Plant your strawberry starts in fall and/or in spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Space them 12-18 inches apart so they have room to grow and spread out a bit.

kid planting strawberries

If you’re growing in rows or hills, you’ll need to do a bit of maintenance. If the plants are too crowded they won’t produce good fruit—so as you’re munching your way through the strawberry patch, remove any dead leaves and berries you see.

Tip 3: Keep your strawberry plants happy by removing dead leaves and berries.

As the strawberries get established they’ll send out runners, or stolons. Runners are a long stem that leads from the main strawberry plant (the “mother”) to a new area of garden. A new strawberry plant will develop at the end of the runner, and once it gets established the stem linking the two plants will die.

strawberry mother plant and runner

Hold on a minute now…I know what you’re thinking: “Hot diggity, I’ll just let the plants go crazy and send out a million runners. We’ll be overrun with strawberries in no time!”

It sounds like a good idea but those runners will weaken the main plant. (Moms, you know what I’m talking about.) For the first year, pinch off any runners and remove them. Just keep the main plant.

Pests, Diseases, & Companion Plants

Kids are not the only ones that like strawberries. Snails, slugs, and earwigs are big fans as well. You’ll know you have snails and slugs when you find holes in the berries. Here are the best natural ways to get rid of earwigs, and eliminate snails and slugs from your garden.

Don’t plant strawberries where you’ve previously grown tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, or potatoes. These plants can carry verticillium wilt (a soil-borne fungi) that will damage your plants. For this reason, don’t try to grow your strawberry patch by using runners from a friend’s garden. It’s best to buy healthy starts from a reputable nursery.

Tip 4: To prevent disease, buy healthy strawberry starts from a nursery instead of getting plants from a friend’s garden.

Did you know that (just like people) some plants work better together than others? I learned this by reading the excellent gardening book, Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening (a must-read for vegetable gardeners!).

carrots love tomatoes book

 

Strawberries grow well with chives, bush beans, spinach, and/or borage. Plant your brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc) in another part of the garden—strawberries will hinder their growth.

Harvesting Strawberries

Once your strawberries start ripening, you should pick them every couple of days. Only pick strawberries that are completely red all the way to the calyx (the green part). This little beauty needs one more day to ripen.

nearly ripe strawberry

For storage, it’s best to cut the stem instead of pulling it off the plant. However, if you’re eating them immediately, like the kids do, the pull-and-munch technique is fine.

When picking, place them gently in a bowl to prevent bruising and spoiling. Store in the fridge for a day or two before eating or preserving. Yum!

strawberries growing in garden

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Pam

Hi, I’m Pam! I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey, and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here, and please check out the resources in my Natural Living Shop!

15 Comments

  1. Russlyn Clark on June 12, 2021 at 10:52 am

    I cut off all runners during the fruiting season and let the runners go wild after the fruiting season. More strawberries and still get tons of runners.

  2. Beth on May 13, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Love this post!

    When and what do you feed your strawberries?

    Thank you!

  3. Anna on May 9, 2020 at 4:58 am

    Want your sliced or whole strawberries to look beautiful for a few days in the refrigerator? Don’t put sugar on them but use Splenda sweetener. It takes so little to do the trick. Don’t overdo. This the only use I have for Splenda. It’s amazing!

  4. Tamsyn on May 3, 2020 at 10:27 am

    I am attempting strawberries for the first time. I am putting them in an upright pallet, filled with compost that has chicken wire and hessian on the back to hold it all in place. hopefully they will waterfall down over it.
    Wish me luck 🙂

  5. Jae on April 25, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    I love your post on growing strawberries. What type of soil is best for planting strawberry plants? What animals will eat or destroy the plants?

  6. Nan on March 22, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    If you plant strawberries in a clay strawberry pot or a tower, how do they winter over without freezing?

  7. Carrie on June 24, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    My strawberry plants are beautiful especially since I thinned them out this year but the berries are so small and sad looking. What am I doing wrong??

  8. efrentrinidad@yahoo.com on April 23, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    yes i have fruit bearing strawberries in my house in manila

  9. Stan on February 22, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Can strawberries be grown in a tropical climate?

  10. Amy on December 30, 2018 at 4:35 am

    Can I grow inside?

  11. Jean Sautter on September 4, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    I buy plastic paper plate holders at the Dollar Tree, cut out the center and pull the plant up through the middle. Strawberry platforms for 25 cents each.

    • Nita on April 15, 2020 at 7:30 pm

      I love this idea
      Thank you.

    • Gary Oye on June 29, 2020 at 5:52 pm

      I thought I was the one who came up with that… I spread petroleum jelly mixed with borax on the plates

  12. Vell on August 27, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Can I get more strawberry plants out of runners

  13. Doreen on June 16, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Looking forward to your posts

    Thank you

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Pam

Hi, I'm Pam!

I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here! Learn more about me.

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