By Carrie Terry
Strawberries are sweet, fairly versatile summer crops that may continue to bloom and produce fruit all summer, depending on variety. Jewel strawberries are a variety specifically adapted to the climate of the northeastern and midwestern U.S. This plant grows a moderate number of runners, or vines, compact green foliage and large, tasty berries. Jewel is characterized by mid- to late-maturing fruit, and is hardy to cooler areas of the U.S., but requires plantings similar to many other strawberry cultivators.
Choose the right site and timing for jewel strawberry planting. As late June-bearing strawberries, jewels have a long growing time and do best with early spring plantings. Choose a site that gets full sun for eight hours every day for growth and fruiting. Do not choose a site that puddles after a storm, as strawberries won’t tolerate standing water. Wait for a cool, cloudy day for strawberry planting.
Rake the site you’ve chosen to break up the soil and clear it. Gather rocks and weeds and throw them out, to keep the site clear and open for strawberries. Mix a combination of half quick-draining soil and half rich organic compost into the top 12 inches of soil to give strawberries a quick-draining and nutritious foundation.
Plant jewel strawberries 18 to 24 inches apart, in rows spaced at 2 to 3 feet. Plant strawberries in shallow holes so that the crowns of their roots are exposed. Water strawberries immediately with 1 inch of water, and put them on a weekly watering schedule of that amount. Mulch the strawberries with 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch to maintain soil moisture, control weeds and keep the soil warm.
Prune off jewel strawberry blooms in the first year, when they appear. Although this eliminates your fruit harvest for the first season, it encourages runners and will lead to hardier plants and larger harvests in the coming years.