By Kaye Lynne Booth
Ever Bearing strawberries flower and bear fruit in three harvests: spring, summer and autumn. While single yields are small, the overall yield can be quite large. They grow new flowers and berries even if the first set is killed or damaged by frost, so they are a good choice in colder regions. Ever Bearing varieties include Ever Red, Ozark Beauty, Pink Panda, Shortcake and Tristar. All strawberries come in bare root form when purchased from nurseries, but they are easy to plant if you know how.
Dig a 2 inch layer of organic compost into the soil where you plan to plant your strawberries. Strawberries require well drained soil. Dig in 2 inches of peat moss to improve drainage in heavy clay soils. Your planting bed should be in full sun for Ever Bearing varieties. Be sure that ground has warmed before planting.
Lay black plastic over your bed to retain moisture and keep the bed weed-free. Make holes in the plastic where your strawberries will go. (This step is optional.)
Trim the roots of the strawberry plant with garden shears to a length of six inches. Cut off any damaged roots as well.
Place bare roots in water and soak for at least one hour prior to planting. Bare root strawberry plants are dehydrated and must be re-hydrated before planting.
Push hand trowel deep enough for the strawberry roots, then pull the handle toward you, creating a planting pocket for your strawberry plant.
Place strawberry plants into the pocket carefully, keeping leafstalks above the ground. Spread the roots out in the bottom of the pocket. Cover the roots to their tops with soil. Space strawberry plants 24 inches apart. Press gently to firm the plants into place.
Water so that soil is thoroughly saturated. Keep new strawberry plants consistantly moist until they have become established. Then water regularly.
Mulch with two to three inches of weed-free straw.
Ever Bearing strawberries grow runners that will eventually sprout new plants. When runners are 15 inches long, space them 6 to 9 inches apart and cover with ½ inch of soil; place a stone on each runner until it sets roots. Then snip the runner where it attaches to the main plant and you will have a new strawberry plant.
Pinch off runners for larger fruit or let them grow for heavier yields.
Pick berries as they ripen. Overripe fruit will rot on the vine.
Apply compost tea to fertilize between harvests.