Editor’s note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, appears every other week during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.
By Brittany Cupp
Buying land in the winter unfolds a plethora of surprises after the snowmelt.
One of the many fun surprises hidden beneath winter’s veil was a strawberry patch in my yard. It being my first berry patch, I have been very surprised by the amount of fruit it has produced in such a small area.
Going out and picking fresh (and quite large) berries for breakfast and dessert has been such a pleasure I think everyone should have a patch in his or her own backyard. So this column is to help get you growing strawberries.
Finding a plot is your first mission. Because strawberries are perennials (they come back every year), it’s important to pick a place they can stay. They need full sun and good drainage, so think ahead before you start working the soil. Some people plant them in rows, in raised beds, even mounds and barrels.
My strawberries are serving as a ground cover in my large flower bed; thus filling space that would have otherwise been dirt, mulch or probably weeds. The lusher areas (holding more moisture) in my flower beds have been producing larger berries than the all-day-sun area, so experiment and see what happens.
Once you’ve researched and planned your site, cultivate your soil and prep it for planting. Strawberries love soils with lots of organic matter, so use well-composted manure, rotted leaves and garden compost to enhance your soil. When planting starts, remember to space them 1 to 2 feet apart and make sure to place them in a hole no bigger nor smaller than the pot they came in.
As for how many plants to buy? Well, that depends on your space and how many strawberry pancakes you’d like to eat. About six plants for a family of four should suffice, but if you have the space, I’d recommend more – because I like pancakes.
So head down to your local nursery, which can point you in the direction of the best varieties for your area. Strawberries can be planted in spring, summer or fall. It’s said that fall is best so, like mine, the berry plant can grow a strong root system in the winter months and be booming in the spring.
Happy planting and have a berry blast.
Brittany Cupp has been a Colorado master gardener since 2012. She lives in La Plata County.