By Bridget Moynihan

When you are out shopping for strawberry plants keep in mind that there are three types: Junebearing, Dayneutral and Everbearing. Junebearers produce the largest berries and lots of runners from which will grow new plants. They only produce for a short period, once per season. Dayneutral and Everbearing plants produce fewer runners, smaller berries but multiple crops. Whichever variety you choose, you will find strawberries very easy to grow. According to horticulturists at Purdue University, 25 strawberry plants will yield 25 to 50 quarts of berries from mid-May to late June, depending on where you live. If you live in an area with mild winters, you can plant your strawberries in late summer or early fall. Even though you won’t be planting your strawberry plants until summer, however, it’s a good idea to begin preparing your strawberry bed in early spring.

Find a place in your garden that gets six to eight hours of sunlight a day.

Dig into the soil where you will be planting your strawberry plants. Dig down 8 inches, turning the soil and breaking up any large clods of dirt. Remove any roots or debris in the soil. Level the soil well.

Amend the soil where you plan to plant the strawberries. Add a 3-inch layer of sand and the fertilizer and mix it in well with a garden fork. Horticulturists at Purdue University suggest two pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet of garden.

Dig a hole into the soil deep enough so that the crown of the strawberry plant will sit just slightly above the surface of the soil. Space the plants at least 18 inches apart in rows that are at least 36 inches apart. Finally, add a 3-inch layer of mulch to the top of the soil — pine straw is good — to conserve and to help keep the roots of the strawberry plants cool as plants get established.

Water the strawberry garden well after planting and make sure that they get an inch to an inch and a half of water every week.

Pinch off any blossoms that appear during the first year so that the plant will grow stronger. You will get your first harvest a year after planting.