By Ken Macdonald
The University of Illinois Extension website recommends a number of June-bearing strawberry varieties, including Delmarvel, Seneca and Kent. Strawberries are one of America’s favorite fruits; the University of Illinois Extension website cites a U.S. Department of Agriculture figure putting annual consumption of strawberries at 4.85 pounds for each American citizen.
Till the soil, removing weeds, in a well-drained spot that gets plenty of sunshine; six hours of sun a day will give a good crop. Mix in 3 inches of compost using a garden fork.
Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the young strawberry plants. Do this in March or April, when morning frosts have passed. Put them in the hole, covering them in soil to the top of the roots. June-bearing strawberries are best planted in rows with the plants spaced at 18- to 30-inch intervals. Rows should be 3 to 4 feet apart. After planting, give the strawberries a good soaking.
Remove the blossoms from the strawberry plants in the first year. This encourages root growth so the crop will be more abundant in subsequent years.
Cut back the foliage to 4 inches when the strawberries have finished fruiting. Apply a layer of straw 4 inches thick to protect the plants through the winter.
You can grow strawberries in containers and hanging baskets.
Birds can strip the fruit from strawberry plants quickly. Cover your strawberry bed with netting to protect the fruit.