By Eulalia Palomo

The growing medium is important for any food crop, and strawberries are no exception. Compost is a rich, nutritious growing medium that is ideal for a strawberry garden. Because the compost is so rich, additional fertilizers are unnecessary. Compost-grown strawberries are also less likely to get black root rot, a disease that can be devastating to a strawberry harvest. Strawberries thrive in an area that gets at least six hours of sun a day.

Select a 8- to 12-inch-tall raised bed in full sun or collect a series of planters or pots. Window boxes, garden pots and deck planters are all suitable for growing strawberries in compost. If you are using pots, select ones that are 10 inches wide or larger and that have drainage holes in the bottom.

Fill the pots or the raised bed with well-seasoned compost. Fill raised beds to the top and rake the area smooth. Fill pots to 1 inch below the lip of the pot.

Place the strawberry plants out. Space plants 15 inches apart in planters or raised beds. Place one strawberry plant in each 10-inch pot.

Scoop out a handful of soil to create a shallow dip that is about as deep as the root ball of the strawberry plants.

Slide the strawberry plants out of their nursery containers and place the root ball of one plant in each hole. Plant the strawberries so that the stem is the same depth in the new planting area as it was in the nursery pot. Add compost back around the root ball and press it down with the flat of your hand.

Soak the planting bed until the compost is damp at least 6 inches deep. Soak pots and planters until water seeps from the drainage holes in the bottom. Place pots in an area that gets full sun.

Remove weeds as they emerge by hand to avoid disturbing strawberries root system. Keep the planters or garden bed free of weeds to prevent competition.

Water the strawberry plants when the top 1 inch of the soil begins to feel dry to the touch. Strawberries thrive in a slightly damp but not waterlogged environment. Monitor container grown plants as they are likely to dry out faster than raised beds.

Harvest the strawberries when they are plump and red. Pull the fruits off the plant being careful not to damage the plant. Depending on the variety, strawberries begin producing in early June or July.

Plant strawberries outdoors or in containers in the spring or fall. When planting strawberries in containers in the fall, place the pots in a frost free greenhouse or covered porch area.

http://www.howtoplantstrawberries.com

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