Growing Berries in Your Backyard
Watering. Strawberry plants need regular water to thrive, especially during fruit bearing season, when they need an average of 1-2 inches of water daily. The best way to water strawberries is to use drip or soaker hose placed at least two inches away from the plant. Strawberry roots are shallow, so keep the soil moist but not soggy. If soil is high in clay, be especially careful not to over-water. Use sprinkler irrigation carefully. During fruiting season, fruit is susceptible to rot if plants do not dry out in between watering. For this reason, avoid watering in early evening. When using strawberry pots, check the openings regularly to ensure soil doesn’t get too dry.
Fertilizing. Strawberries aren’t heavy feeders, but can benefit from an application of fertilizer 6 weeks after planting. Use ammonium sulfate or a concentrated organic fertilizer such as fish, feather, or bone meal at a rate of ½ pound per 100 square feet. Nurseries and garden centers also sell “Berry” fertilizers with packaging that contains directions for application. Irrigate after fertilizing to help move fertilizer into the root zone. Observe plants to determine future fertilization. Light green leaves and a lack of vigor indicate a need for further application.