By April Sanders

Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits grown by home gardeners, according to the University of Illinois. Hardy, tasty and rich in Vitamin C, strawberry plants don’t require a lot of space and will grow with a minimum of care. In addition, most varieties are prolific strawberry producers and will supply your family with a steady stream of fruit all summer long. One thing these plants do require to grow well is a healthy start, and that means properly preparing the soil for planting the strawberries.

Choose a location that is exposed to a full day’s worth of sun and has very well-draining soil. Overly wet soil can cause fungal diseases in strawberries, which is why many strawberries are planted in raised beds or in containers.

Test the soil at least four months before planting. Strawberries grow best in soil with a pH level of between 5.5 to 6.5, according to North Carolina State University. Amend the soil with lime if necessary to raise the pH numbers. To lower pH levels, work organic fertilizer into the soil.

Plant strawberries in the spring, when the ground is soft enough to be worked, but not wet. If the ground is wet, wait a few days until it is thoroughly dry.

Work balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer 8 inches into the soil before planting. Use 1 lb per every 100 square feet of the planting site.

Plant on a cloudy day, and place the plants in the soil so that the soil just covers the roots but does not cover the crown of the plant.