The following are some of the most common questions about planting strawberries in zone 8.
What type of soil do I need?
You will need a sandy loam soil with good drainage. You should not use clay or heavy clay soils because they may cause problems like root rot, which may result in your strawberry plants dying due to lack of water.
How much sunlight does it get?
Zone 8 is considered to have semi-arid climate. Soil moisture content needs to be maintained at 50% or higher. If you want to grow strawberries in zone 8, then you need to provide adequate light intensity so that the plants can thrive.
Is there any special care needed if I am using organic fertilizer?
Organic fertilizers work well for strawberries but they require regular application. They must be applied every two weeks during the growing season. Organic fertilizers may also affect the taste of your berries. Therefore, you should avoid using them if possible. Use only non-chemical methods to maintain optimum growth rate of your strawberry plants. These include compost tea, perlite and vermiculite.
When is the best time to plant?
Strawberries can be planted anytime between September and March. Since the zone 8 has 4 distinct seasons, you can plant your berries during those months only. If you do not have experience in planting these berries, seek advice from an expert. He will be able to guide you through proper planting techniques.
How much do strawberry plants cost?
It depends on where you buy them. If you buy them from a local nursery, they should not cost more than $3.5 per plant. In fact, you can buy an assortment of different types which will cost you less. If you are looking for organic berries then it may cost more since these plants are considered to be rare and would need proper maintenance as well.
What type of berries should I grow?
There are 3 main types of berries that can be grown in the zone 8. They include everbearing, day neutral and June bearing. Everbearing plants can produce fruits during the spring as well as autumn. The berries will not be of high quality but will have fair taste. Day neutral plants will give good quality fruits for about 6 weeks in a year. They produce consistently good yields. The June bearing plants are considered to be the best among all others. They will give highest yields and of highest quality.
What is the average time before I see the first harvest?
It takes about 1 full year to see the first harvest of any of the plant types mentioned above. You will see significant increase in yield and quality after every year.
What is the time before I get to taste my first strawberry?
It takes about 2 to 3 weeks after planting the seeds before they sprout. After that, it takes about 1 year for your plant to grow before it starts producing flowers. It then takes another 3 months for the berries to develop. It is only after a year that you will be able to taste your first home grown strawberry!
How many plants of each type do I need?
Strawberries can be grown in pots. So you can grow them even if you do not have enough space in the backyard. You can place your pots either on a patio or even on a windowsill. For best results, you should use at least 3 plants of each type. This will give you sufficient yield and will keep you satisfied throughout the year.
What type of container should I use?
You can use any container that is large enough to hold 3 containers. Since strawberry plants need a great deal of light, it is highly recommended that you do not grow them indoors. Instead, place them on your patio or any other place that gets a lot of direct sunlight. If you want to grow them indoors, use containers such as flower pots and plastic buckets. Just make sure that these are at least 20 inches in diameter since the roots of the plants will take up a lot of space.
What Zone is Best for Growing Strawberries?
If you want to grow strawberries in your backyard, the first step should be determining what zone you are in. This will help you decide what type of soil and weather conditions you will need in order to have your plants grow successfully. There are 7 zones in the US, each zone receiving a specific letter from A to G. The zones receive these letters depending on their average annual extreme minimum temperature.
If you live in zones A and B, you can choose to grow everbearing, day neutral or June bearing types of strawberries. For best results, it is recommended that you plant more than one type. This is because different types of plants thrive in different conditions and each perform better at specific times.
If you live in zones C to G, you can grow all three types but it is important that you place more than one type since some plants perform better during different seasons.
Fertilizing Your Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants are heavy feeders. This means that they require a lot of nutrients for the plants to grow. In fact, strawberries have the highest nutrient requirement among all fruits.
If the plants do not receive proper nutrition within a year of cultivation, old wood is shed and new wood forms. This results in smaller and fewer berries even if you give the plants proper nutrition the following year.
So how do you make sure that your plants get enough nutrition?
The answer is quite simple: you need to fertilize them regularly. There are several ways to do this. Some of the most popular ones include:
Option 1: You can use a slow release fertilizer. Most brands of these come in either tablets or spikes. Both of these are planted into the ground near the plants and then slowly release nutrients as the plants need them.
Make sure that you place these tablets or spikes at least 6 inches away from the base of the stem since this is where the roots form.
Option 2: Compost. This is one of the best ways to give your plants the nutrients that they need since compost is rich in nutrients and also helps improve the structure of the soil. Just take a pile of organic matter such as leaves, grass clippings and kitchen waste, keep it moist and then let it decompose over a few months.
You can then add this to your garden and dig a little bit into the soil around the base of each plant. Since this takes a while to decompose, you will have to refresh the pile every few months.
Option 3: Manure. Like compost, this comes as either dry or wet. If you use the dry type, all you have to do is mix it with some water and then pour this liquid around the base of the stems.
With the wet type, you can either make a makeshift bucket by poking holes in a five gallon pail or you can buy a kit from the nursery.
Option 4: Chemical Fertilizer. This is not recommended as it is the least healthy option. These are quick release fertilizers that provide a short burst of nutrients but they are not organic and this can actually harm your plants in the long term.
If you do choose to use them, make sure that you only use them occasionally since they can easily burn your plants if overused.
Pruning Your Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants require very little pruning. Just remove any leaves or runners that grow over the perimeter of the bed since these will draw energy away from the plants. If a plant starts to produce flowers but no fruit, you can also trim it back but make sure that you do not prune it back to within an inch of its life since this will effectively kill it.
Strawberry plants are very low maintenance plants and as long as they receive sufficient nutrients and water, they should survive just fine. However, there are some things that you can do to help them live a little longer such as keeping the weeds around the patch at bay and hoeing to remove any invading grass or weed roots that attempt to choke out your plants.
Harvesting Your Berries
Once you berries start to ripen, you will have to harvest them. This can be a little time consuming but if you set aside an hour every other day, you should be able to keep up with the harvest. You will also need to make sure that you pick them as soon as they ripen and not a moment later since ripe strawberries do not keep very well and will rot relatively quickly.
Once you pick your berries, you need to get them out of their container and into the fridge since they will last much longer if stored properly.
Sources & references used in this article:
Growing strawberries in high tunnels in Missouri by LW Jett – 2007 – doc-developpement-durable.org
Growing strawberries in Wisconsin by BR Smith, DL Mahr, PS Mc Manus, TR Roper – 1999 – counties.extension.wisc.edu
Methods for altering the flowering time in strawberries by F Takeda – HortScience, 2010 – ars.usda.gov
Water relations and yield of lysimeter-grown strawberries under limited irrigation by F Liu, S Savić, CR Jensen, A Shahnazari… – Scientia …, 2007 – Elsevier
Integrated pest management for strawberries by LL Strand – 2008 – books.google.com