By Racheal Ambrose

Strawberries grow easily. Choose from three different harvesting classes, according to June berries produce one large batch of strawberries every spring; harvest takes place three weeks later. Ever-bearing strawberries bear fruit in the fall and spring. Day-neutral strawberries bear fruit all growing season. For the largest amount of strawberries, plant June bearing. Plant either ever-bearing or day-neutral types to have strawberries throughout the season. Plant the strawberries from seeds or started plants. Either method works well.

Combine a 50/50 mixture of soil and compost in a bucket. recommends the soil have a pH level between 5.3 and 6.5. Use well-draining soil; standing water kills strawberry plants. Add mulch to help water drainage and to prevent weed growth. Fill three-fourths of planting barrels with the mixture.

If you use plants, dig a hole about a foot deep in the barrel. Place the barrel in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight, according to Set the plant in the hole and bury. Any greenery should stick out of the ground. Plants two plants in the barrel.

Plant two seeds six inches into the soil. Cover with the soil. Use either store-bought seeds or remove them yourself by blending strawberries with one cup of water. Blend at high speed for a few seconds; the good seeds will sink to the bottom. Pour out the juice and use a spoon or rubber scraper to scoop out the seeds.

Water the plants if it doesn’t rain. Measure rainfall with a rain catcher or a cup. Give at least an inch of water a week.

Weed the barrels about once a week. Weeds remove nutrients and water from the soil. Cut off and toss any parts that grow away from the main plant. recommends removing the first flowers to get bigger fruit.

Pick ripe berries immediately to prevent spoiling. Ripe berries are bright red in color. Gently twist the berry off the stem. Harvest early in the morning. Add a two inch layer of compost to fertilize the soil in the barrel once all of the berries have been picked. Add mulch to protect the roots during the winter. Remove the mulch when spring arrives.

Bird, squirrels and other animals eat strawberries. Add low wire fencing to the top of the barrel to discourage rodents. Hang a wind chime by the barrels; the noise startles birds. Set out a bird feeder near the strawberries to keep their attention occupied.