By Kenneth Coppens

Strawberries are the perfect fruit to grow if you like making homemade jams, fruit smoothies or other types of fruity snacks. Strawberry plants need to be in ideal conditions to grow large, healthy fruit. An ideal location is sunny with a warm-to-hot growing season. The typical Cincinnati spring and summer seasons are moderately warm, so strawberry plants can grow quite well. With the proper steps, you will have a nice batch of homegrown strawberries each fall season for many years to come.

Place the strawberry seeds in a freezer for two weeks. This simulates sitting in the ground during the winter months, which is when the seeds prepare to start the germination process. After two weeks, set them in a spot away from a sunny window so that they slowly warm up to room temperature.

Find the best spot to plant the strawberry seeds. An ideal location is one that gets a lot of sun, minimal amounts of wind and is slightly elevated. A raised bed with wooden sides works perfectly.

Water the soil until it is damp. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil.

Lay a quarter-inch of peat moss over the seeds. Be sure not to put more than a quarter-inch on top of the seeds. It is better to have a little less than too much.

Fertilize the seeds every two weeks for the first two months. Fertilize the plants every 10 days after the two-month period. Fertilizer made for tomatoes works especially well for strawberries.

Keep the soil moist while the plants are growing. It is best to water them before the sun comes up, but if that is not possible, water them as early as you can in the morning.

Harvest the strawberries when they are completely red and start to feel soft.

Do not plant strawberries where tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants or any type of berries have grown in the past few years. Doing so will increase the chance of a disease called verticillium wilt.

Do not plant strawberries where grass has grown recently. It is likely that small worms would still be living in the soil and will eat the strawberries before they are even ripe.

Move the location of the strawberry plants every three years.