If you recall, one of the beds in the Demo Garden this year is designated for “annual” strawberries. That is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, because the plants themselves are still technically perennials. However, we are trying two varieties of day-neutral strawberries, which can produce strawberries all year long, regardless of day length. Traditional, June-bearing strawberries only produce once in the spring. For that reason, these varieties are often grown as annuals, particularly in commercial settings.
The first variety of berries arrived last Thursday, which we planted on Friday. The second variety arrived yesterday, so we planted those this morning.
Here’s the bundle of bareroot plants that got here on Thursday. Don’t those roots look healthy? Bareroot plants are still dormant or mostly dormant, which means that we have a little leeway in planting, but we really don’t want the roots to dry out. We stored the plants in the bag they were shipped in (partially open) in the refrigerator until planting.
When you are planting strawberries, the key is to plant them at the right depth. You want all the roots to be underground, but you can’t get the growing point below the soil level. That means that you have a very narrow margin of error for the correct depth. On this plant, the correct depth would be the darker brown area in the center, between the roots and where you can see green stems coming out the top.
The other important part about planting strawberries is that you can’t just bend the long roots in the bottom of the hole. We call that a “J” root planting. When your bareroot plants have lots of long, healthy roots, it is usually easier to trim a couple inches of the finer roots off the bottom. We trimmed our plants so they had about 5″ of roots. Much easier to plant at that point! Since the plants are still dormant, it doesn’t hurt them to have their roots trimmed.
For spacing the plants, we planted much closer than if we had been planting June-bearing strawberries. We planted a double row of each variety, about 10″ apart (4-5″ off the drip line). The plants in each row were planted approximately 12″ apart, and the rows were staggered, so there aren’t two plants directly across from each other. You can kind of see the tops peeking out in the pictures above.
Because we had just worked in a whole bunch of really nice compost, we didn’t fertilize at all. If you haven’t added compost, manure, or fertilizer recently when planting strawberries, a little bit of a starter fertilizer might be helpful in the planting holes.
Now it is just a matter of keeping things moist and waiting for the plants to take off and grow!