With pandemic gardening rolling into 2021, we’re seeing an influx of new gardeners this year. Many of these gardeners discovered gardening during the pandemic last year.
I am more of a vegetable gardener as opposed to a fruit gardener because of my lack of patience. One of the fruits that I get a lot of questions about is strawberries. Most people are drawn to strawberries because it’s one of the more popular fruits in the U.S.
This article will be focused on planting strawberries in the home garden and not in a commercial setting where they are replanted every fall.
If you are planting strawberries this spring, now is the correct time. They need to be planted about four weeks before the last frost, which is around the middle of April. You can plant strawberries by either rooted plants or bare-root plants. Keep in mind that strawberries planted in the spring may not have the full yield potential as already established strawberries.
It can be hard, but it’s best to pick off all of the flowers the first year to help get the plant established. Pick a site that is well-drained or perhaps you have a spot in a raised bed.
There are two main categories of strawberries — Short-day/June-bearing and Day-neutral/Everbearing. June-bearing produce a large, single crop and flower a few weeks in late spring. Most of the time these flowers were set in the previous year and overwintered on the plant. They do produce runners and can be grown for several years. Some great cultivars for Tennessee include Earliglow, Allstar and Cardinal.
Everbearing strawberries produce fruit over a longer period of time. They produce very few runners and they’re great for a smaller garden. They don’t often have the yield as June-bearing types though. Some good cultivars would include Tristar, Tribute and Seascape.
At the end of the season, it’s best to thin the plants to 6-8 inches apart. Keep the area clean between the plants to help prevent weeds and any insects that may try and overwinter in the strawberry beds.
Lucas Holman is the Horticulture UT-TSU Extension Agent, Wilson County. Contact him at (615) 444-9584 or Lholman1@utk.edu.