Growing strawberries can be a fun and rewarding experience for gardeners of all levels. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Choose the right variety: There are several types of strawberries, including June-bearing, everbearing, and day-neutral. Consider your climate and the time you want to harvest when choosing the variety that works best for you.
- Preparing the soil: Strawberries prefer soil that is well-draining and rich in organic matter. Adding compost or aged manure before planting can help improve the soil quality.
- Planting: Strawberries are usually planted in the spring, but the exact timing will depend on your climate. Space your plants 18-24 inches apart in rows that are 3-4 feet apart.
- Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. This can be achieved by watering the soil deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather.
- Mulching: Using a 2-3 inch layer of mulch (straw or wood chips) can help conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
- Fertilizing: Fertilize your strawberries in the spring and again in the fall with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.
- Pest control: Keep an eye out for common pests such as slugs, aphids, and birds. You can control these pests by hand-picking, using insecticide soap, or putting up netting. You can also grow plants with or near your strawberries like marigolds and they will look pretty and deter many kinds of pests.
Making Homemade Strawberry Jam: To preserve your strawberries, try making your own jam and using them at a latter date can be so satisfying, knowing that you made it and you know every ingredient put in them. Here is a simple recipe:
- 4 cups strawberries, hulled and mashed
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (so it keeps it’s color)
- 1 package of powdered pectin (Makes it thicker, but you can skip this if you don’t mind all natural preserves.
- Wash and sterilize your jars and lids.
- In a large saucepan, combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
- Stir in the pectin and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
- Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove the pan from heat and skim off any foam.
- Ladle the hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
- Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth.
- Place the lids and screw the rings onto the jars until finger-tight.
- Place the jars in a large pot of boiling water, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch.
- Boil the jars for 10 minutes, then remove from the water and let cool completely.
Preserving your strawberries with homemade jam is a great way to enjoy the taste of fresh strawberries all year round. With these tips, you should have a successful strawberry garden and be able to enjoy the delicious fruit for years to come.