By Angie Marie

Strawberries grow close to the ground and spread quickly. Available in different varieties, they require different planting times depending on your area. If you live in a warm region, strawberry planting in the fall may work. People who live in the colder regions plant strawberries in the spring so they’re protected from the cold winter temperatures. Plant the strawberries between October and mid-November in the fall or coordinate the planting with the first frost date in your area.

Select a planting location that has well-draining soil. The location needs full sunlight. Place 3 to 4 inches of compost over the strawberry planting area. Work the compost in with a garden tiller to 10 inches in depth.

Test the soil pH level with a pH-testing kit. Strawberries grow best in a pH range between 6.0 and 6.8. Add ground rock sulfur to the area to lower the pH at least three to four weeks before you plant the strawberries. Water the soil well after you amend it to ensure that the sulfur mixes with the soil.

Fertilize the planting area with a balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8. Apply the fertilizer according to the dosage on the package. Work the fertilizer into the soil to 6 inches in depth. Place the strawberry plants onto the soil so that the crowns are above ground level. Cover the roots gently to keep the strawberry plants in place.

Space the strawberries 18 inches apart. Apply mulch around the strawberry plants to help retain water moisture. The mulch also prevents weeds from growing and stealing the nutrients.

Irrigate the strawberries when you do not receive 1 inch of rainfall a week. Water the plants at the ground level. Do not overwater the strawberries — because standing water causes the crown to rot.

Remove the strawberry blossoms after the first year. Removing the blossoms will increase the strawberry production during the next two years.

Remove the strawberry foliage to 1 inch above the crown after you harvest the berries. Avoid cutting or damaging the strawberry crown. Cover the crowns with 1 inch of mulch and fertilize them with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Follow the fertilize dosage instructions on the package.

Cover strawberries with netting to protect them from birds and other predators.