By Kaye Morris

Everbearing strawberries don’t really produce fruit year-round, but they do produce fruit in the spring and early autumn. The twice-year production gives you two opportunities to enjoy fresh, delicious strawberries straight from the vine, and for no more effort than strawberry varieties that only bear fruit once a year. To produce the biggest, juiciest strawberries, the strawberry plants must receive the proper care, but caring for strawberry plants is something an amateur gardener can do with relative ease.

Water the strawberry plants with at least 1 inch of water per week during the growing season. Morning is the best time to water as it gives the leaves time to dry before nightfall, preventing leaf disease.

Fertilize the strawberry plants prior to flowering in the spring and after harvesting the strawberries in the fall. A fertilizer with equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium will achieve the best results.

Weed the strawberry plants by hand to avoid damaging the shallow roots.

Apply three to four inches of mulch to the strawberry plants prior to winter to protect the plants from frost. The mulch should be applied before temperatures fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Rake the mulch to the side in early spring, leaving it handy to put back in place in case of a late frost.

Dispose of the winter mulch and apply a new 1-inch layer of mulch to the strawberry plants to keep the roots cool and moist.

Pick strawberries as soon as they ripen to help prevent disease and insect infestation.

If you intend to store the fruit for a day or two, the best time to pick the berries is in the morning of a cool, cloudy day.

Old blankets and sheets can be used to protect strawberry plants against frost.

Never fertilize strawberry plants while they are flowering or producing fruit.