Here are some tips for growing strawberries

MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICEApril 5, 2014 

LIFE ENV-FARM 5 SJ

MCT

Spring and summer taste even sweeter with homegrown strawberries fresh for the picking.

Planting and harvesting your own strawberries can happen almost immediately, unlike planting fruit trees, which may take several years to grow.

Strawberries add a bright splash of color to any garden. However, the fruit does not require a big backyard. A simple container does not take up much space, so you can plant strawberries on your balcony, patio, doorstep, just about anywhere with enough sun.

There are two main types of strawberries: June-bearing and ever-bearing. While June-bearing strawberries produce a large yield of berries in late spring and early summer, ever-bearing strawberries produce a big crop of berries in late spring and grow all the way up until frost.

Strawberries can grow in all zones, so growing a healthy food is perfect for the warm seasons.

These tips will plant the seeds to ensure a successful strawberry season:

• When planting your strawberries in the ground, make sure the crown, which is the point where the roots of the plant meet the leaves, is above the soil and the uppermost roots are 1/4 inch below soil level.

• Place each plant approximately 14 to 18 inches apart from each other in rows separated by approximately 2 to 3 feet each.

• Mulch is important to keep berries clean, conserve moisture and control weeds in the planting area.

• A strawberry pot is one of the best choices for planting berries in a container because it can hold several plants in one.

• Container plantings need much more water than in-ground plantings, but make sure the container has good drainage. Smaller containers need to be watered more frequently and can be as small as 10 to 12 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep.

• The plants need full sunlight for six to eight hours a day.

• Your berry plants should be fed twice a year - when growth begins and after the first crop - with plant food that has nutrients and growth stimulants.

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