By Katelyn Lynn

Many varieties of strawberries are available to the home gardener, with a variety suitable for just about every area in the United States. Strawberries are classified as June-bearing, day neutral or ever-bearing varieties. June-bearing produce one crop of strawberries per year, in late spring, or in early summer. Ever-bearing and the day neutral varieties produce fruit peaking in early summer and continue through fall, often sporadically. Plant strawberries where they will receive the most sun (at least 6 hours daily) and make sure the soil is acidic and offers good drainage.

Plant strawberries in early spring, as suggested by the the University of Illinois. Or as soon as the soil is soft enough to be cultivated.

Turn over the soil in the planting area to a depth of between 8 and 10 inches. Mix into the soil 4 to 6 inches of compost, rotted manure or other similar material. The University of Illinois suggests mixing a 10-10-10 fertilizer into the soil in the planting area, down to a depth of between 6 to 8 inches.

Ensure good drainage by creating mounded rows that are 5 to 6 inches high and about twelve to sixteen inches wide. Each row should be spaced 2 to 3 feet apart. If soil drains well, create flat rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart.

Dig holes for your strawberry plants that are twice the width, but the same depth of the growing containers. Space each hole 14 to 18 inches apart.

Remove a strawberry plant from its container. If removing from a planting cell, force the strawberry plant up from the bottom of the cell. If removing from plastic pots, lay the pot on its side. Strike downward with your trowel along the rim of the pot to carefully remove the strawberry plant from its container.

Set the strawberry plant into the previously dug hole. Make sure you do not plant the strawberry too deep. Make sure to keep the crown of the plant (the crown is where the stem and root system join) is sitting slightly above the level of the surrounding garden soil (about 3/4 to 1 inch higher then the surrounding soil). Remove or add soil to the hole until you are sure the strawberry plant is sitting at a good height.

Scoop in garden soil around the strawberry plant and tamp it down firmly around the entire plant. Water each of the planted rows thoroughly. Allow the water to run slowly on each strawberry plant. (See the tips section for more information on caring for strawberries).

Maintain the correct soil pH. According to North Carolina State University, strawberries need a soil pH of between 5.5 to 6.5. Check with your local agricultural extension office for how to check the pH of your soil.

Provide plenty of water during their growing season. Strawberries are shallow rooted plants; water them to they receive the equivalent of at least 1 inch of water per week.

Mulch strawberries in the winter. Spread 4 to 6 inches of straw, or any similar material around your strawberries. Remove the mulch from the strawberries in the spring.