By David Thompson
Hot summers in Texas are hard on strawberry plants, but that hasn’t stopped Poteet, in south Texas, from holding a strawberry festival in April that’s the largest agricultural festival in the state. If you choose spring-bearing varieties and use a fall planting system, the plants can grow in the cooler winter months and will bear in the spring. After you harvest the strawberries, discard the plants without trying to keep them alive over the hot summer, according to Texas A&M’s website, “Fruit Gardening in Texas.”
Spread 2 to 3 inches of compost in late September or early October and work it into the soil with a tiller or spade. If you live in Texas where the soil is saline or high in clay, create a raised bed or plant in a container such as a barrel with drain holes or a hanging basket. Use a mixture of 1/2 sand, 1/4 peat moss or sphagnum moss and 1/4 topsoil for the best results, according to Texas A&M’s “Tips for Successful Strawberry Production.”
Purchase disease-free annual or “Junebearing” strawberry plants from a nursery, though they’ll actually bear in February to May in Texas. Sequoia, Chandler and Douglas are varieties recommended for Texas fall planting by both Howard Garrett in “Texas Gardening the Natural Way” and Texas A&M’s Aggie Horticulture site.
Dig a hole with a trowel or hoe for each plant and set it the same depth it grew in the nursery, so the crown is about halfway into the soil. Space the plants at least 12 inches apart each way. In larger gardens, cultivate with a tiller, plant two rows spaced 12 inches apart, then leave a space of 3 to 4 feet before the next pair of rows.
Water the plants thoroughly. Plan for 1 inch of water every week from either rainfall or irrigation for the first several weeks while the plants become established.