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Tips for Planting Strawberries

It's easy to get excited about planting strawberries. The promise of attractive foliage, delicate flowers, and tasty fruit draws many people to buy strawberry plants each spring. Before you start digging, though, spend time thinking about the best place for your strawberry patch, and the best way to space your plants.

The best location for planting strawberries:
The first rule is to choose a spot where your strawberry plants can thrive. Pick a spot that gets a minimum of six hours of full sun each day, more if it's available. Strawberry plants love sunshine. Also, choose a spot that has been cultivated for at least a year. If you plant strawberries in a spot that was recently covered in grass, there's a good chance that leftover grubs will find your plants. Finally, choose a spot that hasn't recently hosted tomatoes, blackberries, eggplants, peppers, or potatoes. These plants can leave behind verticillium wilt, a disease that can destroy your strawberry plants.

Setting up your strawberry patch:
People usually use one of three row systems for planting strawberries. When you're deciding how to space your strawberry plants, think about the strawberry variety you're planting, how much space you have in your garden, and how much work you want to do to maintain the patch.

* Matted row patches
If you are planting June-bearing strawberries, you will need to leave plenty of room for runners and daughter plants. Plant your strawberries in rows that are three or four feet apart, and leave between 18 and 30 inches between your plants. Allow the runners to grow where they want to, and you'll have matted rows about two feet wide.

* Spaced row patches
If you want higher yields and fewer diseases, and are willing to work harder to maintain your strawberry patch, choose a spaced-row system. Plant your strawberries in rows that are three or four feet apart, and leave 18 to 30 inches between your plants. Prune most of the daughter plants, leaving at least four inches between the new plants.

* Hill system
If you're growing everbearing or day-neutral strawberries, you can get the most fruit out of your plants by planting rows of single plants, leaving about one foot between them. Prune all of the runners, and your plants will grow more strawberries. You can replant the runners in a separate row, if you wish.

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