The size of the berries in your harvest aren’t just the results of the fertilizers you use, how rich your garden soil is, or some special hydroponic nute concoction. Nor is it always the variety you’ve chosen to grow, though this is an important part of growing really big strawberries.
The thing is, you can’t get impressive sized berries from any type of strawberry plant other than a June-bearing variety. Yes, if you’re growing your berries in the ground outside, you will only have a couple of weeks of fruit harvest from these plants per year. Ever-bearing varieties do provide you with fresh berries sporadically through the warm months, but the berries are quite small because the plant’s focus is spread too thin. Instead of putting all it’s energy into creating a few big fruits over a short span of time, it has to divide everything it’s got several times over.
So, how do commercial growers manage to have huge strawberries to ship into your local store 12 months a year?
Yes, greenhouses are involved, unless the supply shifts by the season, but strawberries are more perishable than many other crops. Making it far more questionable to ship them in from too far away. Now the varieties grown for mass distribution are bred to have low sugar and juice content – hence the beauty without the flavor. Still, there’s a trick to always having impressively sized berries. A June-bearing strawberry plant’s fruit is always the largest for it’s first harvest. After that the fruit sized get smaller and smaller with each passing season, and when you’re growing in the soil outdoors maintaining a weed-free strawberry patch is nothing short of a nightmare. Why bother?
Well, you could use that backyard patch as your source for an endless supply of new plants, because that’s the secret to getting the biggest berries every harvest. Naturally, buying rooted starts gets expensive over time, additionally, they are only available certain times of the year. Learning how to root your own strawberry starts from the runners on the mother plants will allow you to grow successive crops and enjoy big, juicy berries in all seasons. Granted, this means not growing in the soil out back. Containers and hydroponic growing suit strawberries very well.
This video shows you a super simple method to grow your own strawberry starts in a way that is suitable for any type of growing. The time to get runners for rooting is not long after harvest is over. The minute fruiting is done, your mother plants focus all their energy on reproducing their species, which in a strawberry’s case, is done with runners – baby plants on life support through mom until strong enough to grow on their own.
Hmmm, what if your mother plants are in the ground? Modifying Sleestak’s method wouldn’t be difficult – using small 3″-4″ nursery pots as a bridge comes to mind. You just need to keep the rooting pouches out of the dirt and mud. Also, if you’re going to put your newly rooted berry plants in a hydroponic system it would be smarter to substitute his Miracle Gro fertilizer choice with a nutrient solution.
If you don't find her at the desk - check the gardens. When not writing and weeding, she enjoys a good book, painting junk furniture, and blending the harvest of heirloom tomatoes and chiles into salsas.