Okay, I have Strawberries being delivered Wednesday - Now what?

So my wife wants home grown Strawberries and I thought I’d see if I could make that happen.

To that end I read some posts here (and there…) and mainly on Scott’s experience (and others) I ordered 25 Mara Des Bois, and 25 Earliglow.

One being a “Day Neutral”, and the other being a “June Bearing”

From what I’ve read these two different types are to be dealt with somewhat differently.

Anyway, I was watching a video from Nourse Farms (where I’m getting the plants) and it showed him planting the bare root plants by pushing them in the ground with a little pry-bar looking tool instead of digging a hole, to avoid air pockets.

So I have two raised bed rows that I had amended a couple years ago where I was previously growing Garlic. I’ve decided this would be a good spot for making strawberries, so I’ve had that all tilled and raked up for quite awhile now. Fenced against deer, etc., but now as Wednesday approaches, I’m worried I’m going to do this all wrong if I’m not careful.

If the plants don’t come with that little tool, should I fabricate one, or do you guys just dig little holes and back-fill?

With these two varieties going in in rows side-by-side what problems am I in for? (Maybe I should have just went with one variety and not had to concern myself with two types right off…)

Anyway, any advice will be greatly appreciated.


I just planted 100 (well 97, since my Mom wanted 3) Mara Des Bois 2 days ago and had planted 25 Earliglow, 25 Jewel and 10 Ozark Beauty a few weeks back. From what I’ve seen and been told by other growers, it is pretty hard to mess them up. All the ones I planted a few weeks ago are doing great even though I had a very young helper with the first group and a few days later I noticed a few on the ground that hadn’t even been planted and several that were planted with their crowns well up in the air and roots still exposed. I just put those back in and even they grew after a few days of laying there.

We used a trowel to open a wider hole and spread the roots more for the first batch, but when I had almost 100 Maras to put in before an approaching rain storm, I found that with loose soil it was very quick to just jam 2 fingers down into the soil as deep as possible to make a hole, then poke the roots down into the hole and push the soil back in around the roots. I also used a dibble for a while which let me make deeper holes for the roots, but then the rain started to fall and the bare handed method seemed faster. We’ll have to see how they do once the heat and dry soil of summer set in, but for now the Maras that have only been in 2 days are happily sprouting.

You could probably throw them on the ground and walk away, no, don’t do that, but yes, they are very hardy, frost resistant weeds. You will have more of a problem contolling the spread, as they will produce hundreds of runners. Don’t cover the crown when planting, cover all roots, and they will grow like gangbusters. No special way to plant them, in the ground, that’s how you plant them.

I would just make sure the crown is at the right level. Other than that they are pretty foolproof IMO.

I would also suggest to separate 2 different varieties. Do not plant them close in two rows. The runners spread and mix after a couple of years. In my experience it is better to plant let’s say a half of the bed with each, and mark the separation line so in the future you know what you are growing. Also day neutral strawberries will need more attention since they produce longer. You do not want to spend your time checking mixed up plants for berries, when only day neutral produce.

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I planted my first strawberries last year (everbearing). I got to busy with other work related issues so I did the minimum and observed for the rest of the year.

First observation was that a dry ground cover is need to keep the berries off the damp ground, else they will rot or be eaten by slugs. I guess I imagined the plant would hold up the berries, but every berry stalk fell on the ground due to berry weight.

Second, the blackbirds nailed them very hard in the spring. I anticipated I would eventually have to build a netted cover. However, the birds left them alone from mid july onward. This was around the time all the wild bush berries started to ripen. I guess they only eat strawberries when nothing else is available.

Thanks for the feedback. So it sounds like main thing is getting them in the ground at proper depth and from there they’ll have a fighting chance if I do my part.

I wondered about them laying on the ground as well, and thought of maybe spreading some straw as a mulch/ground contact separator. Thing is if I do something like that will runners seek out the soil beneath the straw, or is straw a bad idea to begin with?

I have to roll for a bit, but I’ll check back in later this evening. Thanks again!

No use straw. I myself like pine straw.

I recommend you heed AuntMary and plant them in two different sections, partly for the reasons she gave, but also because you will be treating the two kinds differently, especially when it comes to rejuvenation time.

Nourse sends good strawberry plants. You have to provide your own tools - hands and a trowel are enough. If you can’t plant them all when they arrive, just keep them in their bag and put them in a very cold part of the fridge. Close to freezing worked well for me. I’ve had to keep some chilled for up to a month and they still sprang to life the day after planting.

Do mulch them. Keeping the berries and leaves off the ground gives you better berries, keeps the soil cooler in the summer, and is a help in avoiding the various fungal rots.

I got several varieties from them this year. The roots on all of them were 6 to 10 inches long. They are eager to break dormancy and spring to life rapidly once planted. As tempting as the promise of immediate berries will be when you see those first blossoms, you will have stronger plants, more and bigger berries, and improve the long term health of your strawberry bed if you remove the first go round of blossoms on your everbearers and all of the blossoms produced this year on your June bearers. I didn’t follow that recommendation to the letter, myself, because I’m in a hot and humid summer area. So, I treated some of the June bearers the normal way and let others bloom - just in case I lose the battle of trying to keep the plants alive through our summer. (Strawberries are expected to be treated as annuals here and destroyed once they bear a crop) That way I should at least get some berries.

The most important thing about strawberries is to enjoy eating them. :smile:

Thank you all for the tips and advice. I need to learn another growing discipline like I need another hole in my head! But it’ll be fun I hope.

The spot I’m putting them in now is in no way a long-term kind of deal. Thing is I had planted a couple peach trees on either side of this former Garlic patch area. There’s maybe 15-20 feet between these two trees and that’s the amended soil area I’ll use for the strawberries.

But the peach trees are only 2nd year trees, so there no worries about crowding or shading for awhile, but over time there sure would be.

And I’d read that a guy may want to move 'em after a few years anyway for disease reasons, etc. So I’m thinking these may be in this spot for a couple years. By then maybe I’ll know if I have a knack for dealing with strawberries.

Maybe I’ll build a box like you have there Drew. That looks real nice!

Thanks again all!!

The raised bed has a rookie mistake it is 12x8. I should have made two 12x4 instead. i have to walk in the middle. I’m going to tear it apart this fall, move it apart to two 12x4 beds so i don’t have to walk on them.
I moved some runners last year into long window box type pots. I plan to use these to repopulate the bed once I rip it apart.

I find these pots easy to propagate runners. The runners tend to hang over the sides. Easy to shore up another long box next to them and fill with the runners. It is how I keep renewing the plants.

I see they’re on the FedEx truck for delivery, it’s 29 degrees as I type. Forecast for tonight is 31, then the 10-day forecast doesn’t look like anymore freezing weather. May just wait until tomorrow to get them in, though the 31 tonight probably wouldn’t hurt 'em much if they come completely dormant.

Muddy: So I remove first blossoms on everbearing, but then they’ll blossom again later and those will be good to let make fruit, but the all on June bearers I probably need to remove the blossoms, and really take little or no fruit off them this year. (Kinda like watching my Asparagus a few years ago. I took some sparingly in year two, but did wait until 3rd year to go whole hog! Still, the waiting must have paid off because that 'gus patch wears me out now!!)

I don’t have another amended-ready place to go with in terms of separating them - that was a concern I had going in, and with AntMary making mention (and your seconding…) now it’s even more of a concern I guess.

Kinda thinking maybe I’ll just plant all one variety in the place I have ready, then maybe till up another spot and see if the others take there. (Sounds like Zendog & Drew have a hard time keeping 'em down! I’ll just hang onto that…)

Like the Insurance guy told me years ago, “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”

I guess I won’t be out much, these plants are pretty cheap.

Thanks again!

That’s right, Jer. The difference between the June bearers and the asparagus is that next year you will get to eat ALL of the berries. Well, at least all the ones you protect from the slugs and birds. Nourse will include an instruction book that covers planting and long term management of all their types plants. You can keep it on hand for reference.

I used to forgo the first crop, but truthfully never noticed a difference if I did, so I harvest all now. Also you can renovate day neutral, it’s not going to hurt them. So them being mixed up is not a big deal to me. I still have some strawberry jam from last year. It was a good year! In June harvest is huge, here’s a typical day’s harvest. June bearing, pineberries, alpine, musk etc.

Honest to god-- Just flop them unceremoniously on the ground and cover 'em up with soil with some light fertilizer or manure. They’ll grow like crazy as long as they get watered or rained every other week during their first year. And they want SUN. You can’t go wrong. Enjoy those luscious berries!

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Hi @iowajer, I know this thread is almost two years old, but I’m in the process on selecting some strawberry cultivars, and I saw this thread where you mentioned that you ordered 25 plants each of Earliglow, and Mara des Bois. These are two varieties I’m interested in getting, along with maybe Jewel, Allstar or Sparkle.

Since you’ve had them in the ground for a couple of growing seasons, I was wondering how they performed for you, production, and taste wise. Also, did you have any disease issues with them? I know some folks say to pinch off blossoms the first year, so maybe you only have one growing season to report.

Also, @zendog, I see that you also planted Jewel and Ozark Beauty, how have all your varieties done for you?


I visited with Zendog a couple years ago. He told me at the time that Earliglow was so far his taste-test winner.

Well it’s a sad tale from here Subdood…

All the plants grew up nicely, and the weeding was a big chore. I mulched and such, but the weeds still kept me WAY busy. My intention was to keep them in as weed-free an environment as I could so as to allow them the best chance of succeeding. And they about wore me out. Probably wouldn’t have been as big a deal if a guy didn’t have anything else to do, or had used some plastic? IDK.

Time got tight and it was becoming a real labor of love (minus the love…) I was stretched pretty thin, and they were all of a sudden producing strawberries.

Bearing in mind that I’d went into this misadventure on behalf of my wife, as she’s the strawberry lover. However I couldn’t seem to coax her into even picking them, let alone to pull a weed every now and then.

So as Fall approached, one day I said to her that I think I may just abort the strawberry experiment for now since I know I’m going to have to move them in a couple years anyway given their location, and all… Well she didn’t fuss about it so when I was getting my Asparagus patch ready for winter I tilled 'em under.

Having said all that, if I were to plant only one of the two it’d The Earliglow. The main reason for me would be that the overall size of the berries were bigger. The taste was awesome too. Mara Des Bois taste wise was equally impressive, it’s just that the berries seemed much smaller. I think you get more bang for your buck with Earliglow.

Both seemed to take right off, no issues whatsoever with either of them performance wise.

But my take on strawberries should be taken with a grain of salt though, as I didn’t really give them a fair chance to show their potential I don’t think.

They did awesome in a short time though.

When and if I do strawberries again, I think I’ll do it like Drew showed up there in the raised beds though.

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IowaJer, what did you use for mulch? I am planning my first strawberry patch this spring and was going to use pine straw, which is readily available next to my house in the woods. Was going to lay it thick to avoid the weeds and extra work, if possible.

Yes, as Matt noted for me the Earliglow were the taste winner, although Jewel was pretty close as well. I planted them beside my driveway in an area where I had previously had grass, planting Earliglow down one side of the strip and Jewel down the other. I was very careful to get all the grass out and then augmented my clay soil with some peat moss and manure. Both varieties grew great, had some berries the first year and runnered extensively, so my 25X of each became probably 200 plants in a 30x4ish area. The second year (last year) we picked about a 15-20 or more quarts, with my wife doing the majority of the picking. At first a hoard of chipmunks and birds were getting most of them, but eventually the crop exceeded what they could eat. If I had protected them I’m sure we would have gotten a more.

With the runnering they are pretty much intermingled now, although I can tell the earliglow fruit visually since it is a bit longer, often with a taper toward the stem intsead of the flatter, heart shape of the Jewels. My hope was to get a longer harvest from the bed by having both, which seems to be working although I think they really are pretty close in their timing. Maybe next time I’d just go with Earliglow, but overall I’m happy with both.

The nice thing was because I had stripped the grass out carefully and we don’t have a lot of weed seed, they cover the area enough to shade most weeds out so it is pretty low maintenance. I had also put down woodchips, so between that and the dense plants it was pretty much just a nice ground cover. Last summer though, was really dry and I didn’t had any fertilizer so we didn’t have as much runnering and the plants were a bit tired by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how they do this year. I’m also not actively managing them, so I’m not tracking what are old plants and what are new so I expect at some point I’ll need to just harvest a bunch of runners and strip everything else out and plant the runners to refresh the bed. I have Carmine Jewel and Crimson Passion planted in a row down the middle of this bed and so far they are growing well with the competition from the Strawberries so that is part of the experiment as well. If I was just doing a single bed that wasn’t in my front yard, I might go with black plastic or at least more actively managing them to keep refreshing them.

In another area I have a large patch of Mara, which do have great taste, but they don’t get the big shot of early morning sun, so they stay damper and there is more fungusing and slug issues. That, plus the fact that they don’t have the big harvest all at once like the June bearing, means that they don’t really get past the production level where the chipmunks and birds get most and where they are set out in my front yard would make protecting them difficult and not so attractive. I’ll probably pull them this year and just keep a smaller patch in a raised bed and see how that goes. Overall, for me, I think the June bearing are just a better fit to make the most of my efforts. But having a nice pot of Maras on the patio or growing them in a protected area in the gutters or other ways is probably well worth it for their flavor and having an occasional treat. @Matt_in_Maryland, how did the Maras I gave you do in your garden?

I also have some of the Ozark Beauties, but that was a much smaller patch that gets less sun, so perhaps not a great comparison. I got these before the Maras since I wanted something that gave me fruit beyond June, but they haven’t been very productive were they are and truthfully, the taste has never come close to the others. That might be the result of the sun, but I’ve read some pretty luke warm reviews of them over time so I think I’d suggest skipping them. But location definitely makes a difference for Strawberries, so plan for getting them good sun and keeping them off the ground or at least in an area they want be as likely to fungus up.

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