By Rebekah Smith

Strawberries are a wonderful garden plant, and a favorite of gardeners. Strawberries require a small amount of space to grow, and they produce fruit quickly after they are planted. Unlike the northern states where fruit is produced in the summer, Texas strawberries produce fruit from February to May. Strawberries are a perennial plant, so they only need to be planted once, and they will come back each year. Because strawberries reproduce by runners, it is better to purchase starter plants than to attempt to grow strawberries by seed.

Prepare the planting bed by adding rich, organic material, such as peat moss and manure. Ensure that the bed is well-drained.

Mix fertilizer in the soil prior to planting.

Place a black cloth or piece of plastic over the bed for a few days to one week prior to planting. This will warm up the soil.

Dig a hole the depth of the roots on the starter plants.

Place the plant in the hole and fill the rest with dirt. Fill the soil up to the crown of the strawberry plants. The soil should just cover the roots, but not the plant. Plant between Sept. 20 and Oct. 15.

Mulch the bed with hay or a similar substance to protect the strawberries from winter freezing.

In Texas, strawberry plants should be planted in the fall, between October and December. Netting the plants will protect them from birds and bugs. Sprinkling wood ash on the plants will keep many soft-bodied insects away. Mulch the berries with straw to avoid fungal problems and protect them through the winter. A light, soluble fertilizer should be administered weekly. Strawberries can also be grown in a container. Strawberries grow very well in a raised bed or container.

Because 90 percent of the root system is very close to the top of the soil, it is vital that the soil and watering be regulated properly. Strawberries cannot handle consistently wet soil, which causes diseases and nematodes.