By Stephany Elsworth

Hood strawberries are an early-ripening, June-bearing strawberry cultivar. They produce large and flavorful berries that work well eaten fresh or cooked in preserves. Hood strawberry plants vary in yield depending upon the growing location. The fruit thrives in the Pacific Northwest. Established Hood strawberry plants will bear fruit for three to five consecutive growing seasons.

Find a site where your Hood strawberry plants will receive full sunlight for much of the day. Have the soil in your chosen spot tested to determine the pH level. Strawberry plants prefer sandy, loamy soils that have a pH level between 6 and 6.5. Till an area of soil approximately 3 feet wide until it is free of weeds. Till peat moss, manure or compost into the soil. Add the appropriate amounts of fertilizer and lime and wait a few weeks before planting.

Buy your Hood strawberry plants from a reputable nursery. Make sure they are certified as disease-free and check the plants carefully for insects, stem or leaf damage. The roots should be light-colored and the crowns should have a solid and healthy appearance.

Plant the dormant Hood strawberry plants in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Place the roots in water for half an hour before planting to prevent them from drying out. Remove any damaged or broken leaves or roots and trim roots so that they are around 4 or 5 inches long. Dig a hole around 6 inches deep. Gently place the plant in the hole so that the crown is level with the ground surface. Pack the soil firmly but gently around the roots.

Space the plants between 18 and 24 inches apart with 36 to 42 inches of space between each row. Add several inches of mulch between the rows after planting to prevent weeds and retain soil moisture. Water the plants after they have been planted. Hood strawberry plants may require irrigation depending upon their growing location. Make sure that the soil is wet at least 12 inches below the surface, but do not overwater.

Hood strawberries are usually ready for harvesting in early June. The plants usually produce berries for 10 to 15 days. Pick the berries early in the day while the weather is still cool and dry them carefully to keep the fruit from rotting. They will last in the refrigerator for around a week.

Strawberry plants require bees to pollinate the flowers, so avoid using insecticides while the plants are blooming. Hood strawberry plants are highly susceptible to viruses. They are also susceptible to herbicide injury, so weed plants by hand whenever possible.