Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Strawberry Plugs: How to plant and grow strawberry plugs

Strawberries are becoming one of my favorite plants. I can not think of any other plant that you can plant in the Fall and begin harvesting fresh berries the following Spring.  Most fruit plants and trees have to grow for several years to either reach maturity or they must be trellised and trained to establish the framework necessary for fruit production.

With our strawberry plugs, you simply plant in October and the arrival of fresh, sweet berries begin the following spring. Now that I hopefully have your attention, I would like to go over the details of successfully planting strawberry plugs and the care they require.

First we need to choose a location:
It needs to get plenty of sunshine and is weed free.  Strawberry plants will grow well in many different soil types; we recommend that the soil has good drainage. If the soil does not drain well then the plants should be planted on raised beds. Strawberries also like organic matter (manure, compost, or peat moss) that has a ph in the 6.5 range. We recommend at least 5% of the soil be composted with peat moss or compost. Once the location is prepared, you are ready to start planting your strawberry plugs.  Space your plugs 12-18 inches apart in the row; optimal row spacing is 3-4 ft.  Set the plants in the row with the root ball facing straight down. The middle of the crown should be level with the soil line. Soil should be well watered after planting to set the plants in the ground but try not to water the plugs directly. After the soil has been watered properly the soil line should be level with the bottom of the crown on the plant.

Second maintain good weed control:
The easiest method to control weeds is called plasticulture. Place black plastic over the raised beds and plant the strawberry plugs through holes punched in the top of the plastic. This will improve weed control from growing around your strawberry plants, help conserver soil moisture, and keep the fruit clean. You may also choose to cultivate around your plants, keeping them free of weeds and this method would not require the use of plastic

The third step is fertilization:
Fertilizer is used to maintain soil fertility and maximize plant growth and fruit production. We recommend using 1/2 lb of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet to be worked into the soil prior to planting your plugs. We also offer a specialized water soluable strawberry fertilizer.

The fourth and final step is mulching:
Strawberries are perennial plants that must survive the weather conditions throughout the winter to survive. Mulching strawberry plants help prevent quick freezing and thawing which can affect plant survival. Mulch maintains a large volume of dead air spaces, which help insulate the plants through cooler temperatures. The best mulching materials to use are wheat straw or hay. You should mulch the plants in mid to late November when the plants have started to go dormant. We need to obtain a 2 inch layer to provide adequate protection; the mulch should stay on the plants until the tops of the crowns put out new growth in the Spring.

Advantages of planting Strawberry Plugs
  • Plugs do not have to be planted immediately; they can be kept in the trays until you are ready to plant
  • Average loss rate of plugs is 1 to 2% compared to 15-20% for bare root plants
  • Plugs have an intact root ball so they are easier to plant
  • Plugs establish more quickly minimizing transplant shock
  • Best of all, you plant in the fall and harvest in the spring

Happy Strawberry Planting!
Greg Ison

Strawberry plugs have 50 per tray.