Last year, I attempted to grow strawberries and failed miserably. The strawberries, though they looked beautiful, exploded like water balloons upon biting into them. They were watery and tasteless, and I couldn't fathom what I did wrong. So, I did a bunch of research and consulted with gardeners and my local gardening shop to figure out what makes a successful crop of strawberries. Here's what I discovered:
Strawberries prefer warm days with cool nights.
For a 30-day ripening period, plant your strawberry crops within the next few weeks (end of springtime) as the ideal growing temperatures for strawberries is 70°F-80°F during the day and 60°F-65°F during the night. Strawberries need 6-10 hours of direct sunlight, so plan the spot accordingly.
Don't plant strawberries with tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants.
In addition to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, avoid planting strawberries with brassicas like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. Without going into too much detail, companion planting — or planting certain vegetables and fruits next to each other — results in natural pest control and increased crop yield. This year, I planted my strawberries in the same box as my green peas, herbs, and zucchini.
Work a bunch of compost into the soil.
Be sure to work compost into the soil before the planting starts. Strawberries like soil that's on the acidic side. In addition, once they are planted, cover the top with mulch to keep the soil moist.
Plant in a raised bed or large pot.
Strawberries need room to sprawl, so be sure they have over a foot of space in between each plant.
Don't bury the crown of the strawberries!
After I planted my strawberry starts, I showed off my handiwork to a gardener friend, who immediately informed me that I had buried the crown — a no-no when growing strawberries, as it causes the plant to rot.
Be sure to snap off any moldy or brown leaves and berries.
I'm a beginner gardener, and this was a huge tip that I had to learn. Pick off any dead, browning, or otherwise moldy leaves and berries, especially those growing near the base of the plant that are hitting the ground. In addition, pick off any runners that form as those too are nutrient-suckers. And lastly, stay on top of weeding. Be sure to pull any weeds that are growing near the crop. You want to direct as much water and nutients to the flowers and fruit as possible.