By Tom Ross
June-bearing strawberries produce a bountiful harvest of large, sweet, high-quality berries for a two to three week period around June after the first year of planting. Everbearing strawberries produce in spring and late summer the first year of planting. Day neutral berries also produce the first year and bear from June to September, if the weather is not too hot. June-bearing strawberry production and quality is superior to that of everbearing and day neutral.
The best place to plant strawberries is based on the space you have available and the quality and amount of strawberries you want. Choose from the following varieties based upon your needs. June-bearing strawberries require a larger garden plot because plants are set 18 to 24 inches from each other, in rows that are spaced 3 to 4 feet apart. June-bearing strawberries send out runners that root quickly, creating a dense planting. In the popular matted row system, these daughter plants are allowed to form a row no more than 2 feet wide by removing any excess runners. Everbearing and day neutral varieties are better suited for small plots or even planters. They bear throughout the season and produce fewer runners, which you remove as they develop, requiring less growing area for the plant.
Once you choose a strawberry type, the right soil must be located. Strawberries need a loose, well-draining soil. Strawberries develop root, leaf and fruit diseases in soils that remain wet. Soil amended with manure or organic matter produces the best growing conditions, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Avoid planting strawberry plots in areas where potatoes, strawberries, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers have grown in the last three years, due to the risk of root diseases. Planting a strawberry plot in ground that has not been previously cultivated is ideal.
Strawberry plots should not be located where are perennial weeds are present, advises Iowa State University Horticulture and Home Pest News. Weeds are hard to control in a dense strawberry plot.
A location with a gentle slope higher than the ground around offers many advantages, because cold air settles to the lowest elevation, sparing the plants the worst of fall frosts. Additionally, strawberries planted on a southern exposure slope ripen a few days earlier than those planted on a northern exposure. Strawberries do best when they are sheltered from the wind by a natural windbreak or a home or building. Strawberries require full sunlight with as little shade as possible for prolific growth. Plant all varieties of strawberries where they will receive at least 8 hours of sunlight per day. Strawberries produce best when grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 to 9, according to the University of Illinois Extension Hortanswers.