By Cyn Reed

The fall is a good time to plant strawberries in Alabama. Strawberries established during September and October have a much higher yield the next year than strawberries planted during the spring months, according to the University of Alabama. Planting certified disease-free plants will better ensure against diseases, such as anthracnose and leaf spots, which are common in hot and humid regions.

Find a variety of strawberry to grow at a local nursery. The University of Alabama Cooperative Extension recommends “Cardinal” and “Earlington” as two good varieties of strawberries for Alabama. Inquire at the nursery for other suggestions.

Prepare a site for the strawberry plants in a well-drained area that receives full sun. Test the soil pH. Strawberries do best in a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Adjust the soil pH if needed by adding lime to increase pH or sulfur to decrease it until the ideal range is achieved.

Remove all weeds on the site by hand. Till the soil, using a spade, to loosen it and to remove large clumps and rocks. Broadcast 10-10-10 fertilizer over the prepared bed, using 1 lb. of fertilizer for every 100 feet. Cultivate it into the soil, using the spade. Dampen the bed with water.

Lay out the strawberry plants in two rows that are 4 feet apart, with a distance of 2 feet between the plants. Dig a hole and plant each strawberry plant so that its crown is above the soil line. Spread the roots and gently firm the soil around them.

Apply organic mulch around the plants 2 to 4 inches deep. The University of Alabama recommends pine straw, wheat straw or finely ground bark.

Water the plants to supplement rainfall so that they receive 1 to 1-½ inches per week.