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Grow It Yourself: Strawberries

Renovation -- which includes removing a lot of old plants to let newer ones replace them -- is an important part of the process. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

One of the sweetest gifts of nature is a red, ripe strawberry. There are three basic kinds of strawberries: June bearing, ever bearing and day neutrals.

June bearing are ready in the spring, so they are also called spring bearing. But gardeners will not get a crop during the first spring after planting.

Ever bearers, when planted after the last winter freeze, will produce fruit during spring or early summer. A second or sometimes third crop will be ready in late summer. Day neutrals produce fruit throughout the summer months.

The University of Illinois Urban Extension says ever bearers and day neutrals are especially good for home gardens. Plant strawberries in the spring as soon as the soil is dry enough.

Try to plant late in the day or on a cloudy day. The soil should cover just the roots and not the crown on top of the plant. Runners will appear in a few weeks.

Strawberries grown in containers need a soil depth of about twenty-five to thirty centimeters. Be sure the container has holes in the bottom.

Strawberries grow well in loamy soil that lets water pass through easily. Carl Wilson at the Colorado State University Extension suggests mixing about three to five percent organic material into the soil.

Part of caring for strawberries is renovation. Once the plants have produced fruit, they become less productive. Renovation means removing a lot of the old plants to let newer ones replace them. The Agricultural Extension Service at the University of Tennessee says growers should do this every year after harvest.

Renovation also includes adding fertilizer. Adding nitrogen as a side or top dressing in late summer will supply nutrients to the fruit buds for the following spring.

California grows most of the strawberry crop in the United States. The fifty-first year of the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival is this weekend south of Los Angeles. The Web site says it began as a way to bring the city of Garden Grove together. A local public relations man suggested a celebration of the area's once plentiful strawberry fields.

It grew into one of the largest community festivals in the western states, complete with the world's largest strawberry shortcake. The festival has a parade, carnival rides, games and a karaoke singing contest called "Strawberry Idol."

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. For more gardening advice, go to I'm Faith Lapidus.