Strawberries are small perennial fruit often grown in home gardens. Fruit is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 10. Home gardeners can save space and grow enough strawberries for the entire family in a square foot garden. Place up to four strawberry plants per square foot and, with proper care, your family can enjoy fresh strawberries for years to come.
1. Everbearing vs. June Bearing
You can choose between June-bearing and ever-bearing varieties. June-bearing varieties produce one crop per year, while ever-bearing varieties produce a succession of fruits over a long season that continues through fall. June bearing varieties produce more runners than everbearing varieties, making everbearing varieties more suitable for a square foot garden. Mature strawberry plants grow up to 8 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
2. Proper Planting
Plant strawberries in a square-foot garden in full sun. Place plant crowns above the soil level. Burying the crown can cause the plant to rot, and exposed roots will dry out. Topmost roots should be about 1/4 inch beneath the soil. Strawberries require consistent moisture, especially during fruit-bearing season. Make sure plants receive at least 1 inch of water per week, either through rain or supplemental watering.
3. Fertilizing Strawberries
June-bearing strawberries require feeding twice a year. A light feeding is appropriate when growth begins; feed again when the plant begins fruiting. Everbearing varieties require consistent but light feedings. Use a water-soluble 21-0-0 fertilizer at a rate of 1 cup per 100 feet. Nitrogen is important for strawberry growth and development. Over-fertilization of strawberries can cause abundant plant growth, but the plants produce soft fruit that rots easily.
4. Thinning Plants and Winter Care
Overcrowded strawberry plants in the square foot garden lead to less fruit production, poor-quality fruit and disease. Removing runners as needed and ridding the bed of older plants every few years is necessary to prevent crowding. Older plants can be replaced with offsets. In cool climates, strawberries benefit from a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch. Use light, weed-free mulch, like straw. Place mulch on plants in late fall or early winter, and rake away, leaving straw in between plants, in spring.