By Amy McClain

Day neutral strawberry varieties produce fruit throughout the growing season and are an ideal choice for home gardening. Day neutral strawberries are cultivated from dormant starter plants and will produce berries in the first growing season. Visit a local nursery to find day neutral varieties that are suited to your climate and soil type. Choose healthy plants with no signs of root rot, mold or winter damage. If you are not ready to set your plants right after purchasing them, you should store them in your refrigerator.

Prepare the planting area in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked and danger of frost has passed. Choose a sunny location with soil that has good drainage. Avoid soil that is clay-like or extremely dry and sandy. Remove any weeds from the planting site. Use a garden tiller or hoe to work the soil and remove any large clumps prior to planting your strawberries. Choose a cool, cloudy day if possible for best results.

Set plants in single rows, keeping plants five to nine inches apart. Each row should be spaced 42 inches apart. Dig a hole for each plant and set it so that roots are extending vertically into the soil. The soil should just cover the top of the roots, making it level with the crown of the plant. Avoid covering the crown with soil.

Water the new plants thoroughly after planting. Soil should be moist but not saturated.

Mulch the planted area with a thin layer of straw to help prevent moisture loss.

After planting, ensure your day neutral strawberries receive at least one inch of water per week.

Remove any weeds from your crop by hand. Avoid pesticides.

Add an ammonium nitrate fertilizer at a rate of one pound per 100 feet of row once per month in June through September.

Avoid planting strawberries in soils with a very high (above 7.0) or very low (below 5.5) pH levels for best results. Contact your local nursery for assistance in testing and adjusting soil pH levels.