Growing Strawberries in Burke County

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With spring right around the corner, you may be wondering, “How can I grow strawberries when I have a black thumb?!” I am a firm believer that a green thumb is cultivated (no pun intended), so let’s talk about growing strawberries in Burke County.

Spring-bearing varieties should be planted between November and March when temperatures are around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Also be sure to consider lighting. Strawberries need about 8 hours of bright sunlight per day, so choose a location that is not overly shaded by large trees, shrubs, or buildings. Growing in a raised bed may also be helpful, just make sure that it is at least six to eight inches deep to provide adequate room for root growth. Plan to plant each strawberry plant 12 to 18 inches apart.

Strawberries need about 1-1.5 inches of water per week, so it may be helpful to place a small rain gauge near your garden to keep track of the amount of water your plants are getting. If it is under the 1 inch mark, be sure to supply water from a hose, watering can, or irrigation system.

Strawberries perform best in a southeastern orientation, so get your compass out and get familiar with the terrain. Strawberries prefer a soil pH of 6.0-6.2, so stop by the Extension office for a soil test kit.

If deer are prevalent in your area, you may want to consider some kind of netting to cover your strawberries to keep the deer from munching on your hard-earned crop. This can also be effective at keeping plants from suffering the effects of a sudden spring cold snap.

What will you do with your homegrown strawberries? Strawberry shortcake? Fruit salad? If your tummy is rumbling at the thought of delicious fresh strawberries from your garden, contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center at 828-764-9480 or visit our website for information on our annual Small Fruit Sale. You can order your strawberry plants and many more fruit varieties for your garden.