|Written by Dena Bolton|
Intro:Â There are very few of us who do not love fresh strawberries. I love growing my own. When I am working in my garden on a hot summer day, there is nothing more refreshing than eating a fresh strawberry right off the vine. Strawberries are incredibly easy to grow, too. I prefer raised beds, because you are better able to keep your strawberries confined.
Step 1:Â Raised beds can be made of almost any material -- treated timbers, stones, bricks, concrete blocks, recycled tires. They can also be any size or shape. I have some raised beds in my yard that are in decidedly odd shapes, made to fit their location. All you need to realize is that you want to simply raise the ground. How high you make your raised beds is entirely up to you.
Step 2:Â Once you have constructed your raised bed, fill it with good compost. If you do not have your own compost pile, you can buy bags of it. I have found that Wal-Mart has some very good bags of compost, and they are not expensive. Be sure to buy the generic brand, which is usually under two dollars per 40-pound bag.
Step 3:Â Choosing the type of strawberry to plant can seem a bit tricky. Most people tend to buy "ever-bearing" strawberries, which produce smaller plants and berries; however, they have a great flavor. "June-bearers" bloom a bit earlier and require more light. "Day-neutral" strawberries do not care how much light they get as long has the temperature stays between 35 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The best thing you can do, however, is ask your local grower. They know which strawberries will do best in your area and can tell you about the flavor. I personally like "Tennessee Best," which produces a good-sized strawberry and has an excellent flavor.
Step 4:Â Planting strawberries is very easy. Just stick them into the ground, being sure not to bury the crown of the strawberry plant. Strawberries grow and spread from runners that chase across the top of your soil.
Step 5:Â Caring for your strawberries is also relatively easy. Make sure you water them regularly and pick off dead leaves. You will find that there are only really two main problems with which you will have to deal. One is slugs. A simple solution is to use crushed eggshells or used coffee grounds as a mulch for your strawberries. The slugs will not be able to slide across these. The other problem is birds. You can purchase a netting at any garden store, which you can then spread over your strawberry plants to protect them from the birds. You can also use PVC pipe to construct a simple frame for the netting.
â€˘You may not have a bountiful harvest of strawberries the first year or two after planting. However, be patient. Once your plants take hold, you will be making a strawberry pie in no time!
â€˘As your strawberry plants mature and spread, you may have to thin them out from time to time to give them some room. Start another strawberry patch with the plants you have removed or give them to a friend. Also, people at plant exchanges will love you when you show up with strawberry plants.
â€˘Plant some sage in with your strawberries. It will help to improve the flavor, plus the scent will assist in repelling harmful bugs.
â€˘Remember -- you do not need a huge plot of land to have a bountiful harvest of strawberries. You can even grow them in large containers.
â€˘There is no need to use harmful chemicals on your strawberries.
â€˘Having fresh strawberries at your fingertips can be addictive.