Growing Organic Strawberries will ensure you get a delicious crop of these tasty red ‘berries’ every summer. Organic strawberries are said to taste better than conventional ones and contain fewer toxins. However, knowing the best way to grow strawberries in an organic garden can be challenging.
Strawberries are a type of sweet juicy fruit in the genus Fragaria and plant family Rosaceae. This means that botanically speaking, strawberries are not a true type of berry but are classed as an accessory fruit. Strawberries are also a very versatile type of summer fruit that can be grown in a number of ways. You can grow strawberries in organic soil in containers, hanging baskets, raised beds, or in vertical planters.
Choosing the best growing methods for your red berry fruits helps ensure you get plenty of delicious strawberries year on year.
Why Growing Organic Strawberries is the Best
There is much debate as to whether growing fruit and vegetables organically results in tastier produce. Of course, planting fruit such as strawberries in organic soil can help to ensure no harmful pesticides or toxins get in the food chain. But is it really best to grow organic strawberries to get better-tasting fruit?
Some scientific studies point to the benefits of organically-grown strawberries. The peer-reviewed journal PLoS One published a study comparing fruit quality between organic strawberries and conventional ones. The study found evidence that organic gardening methods produced strawberries of better quality.
The results of the study were that organic strawberries are better for you nutritionally, taste better, and are better for the environment.
A 2018 review into producing strawberries organically also found that organic gardening methods were superior to conventional ones. For example, organic gardening techniques enhance soil health, moisture content, and increases productivity. Organic gardening is best for strawberries as there is no peel to protect the fruits from harmful pesticides.
Strawberry Growing Tips
If you are planning on growing strawberries, it is important to know the best place to plant them and how to care for them.
There are 3 types of strawberries:
- June-bearing strawberries produce flowers and fruits in the middle of summer.
- Ever-bearing varieties of strawberries give you delicious fruits throughout the growing season.
- Day-neutral strawberries are good for cooler climates but don’t produce as many strawberries as the June-bearing variety.
The best time to plant strawberries is as early as possible after the last frost. However, some gardeners recommend planting in winter to allow the plants to establish themselves and increase the harvest.
Strawberries grow better in loamy soil that drains well and they need between 6 and 10 hours of sunshine daily. You can prepare your soil by digging in organic fertilizer and manure seems to be one of the best for strawberries.
Organic strawberries need plenty of space for sprawling if they are to grow healthily. So, the best advice is to plant your runners about 20” (50 cm) apart and about 4 ft. (1.2 m) between rows. Many organic gardeners’ plant organic strawberries in raised beds to help control the growing environment more efficiently.
Because strawberries are perennial plants, they require proper care to help them survive winter. You should cut down plenty of foliage after the growing season to leave about 1” (2.5 cm) of the plant. Put plenty of mulch over your plants to lock in moisture and protect them from the cold.
Another tip for growing organic strawberries is to rotate your crops every 3 years. Avoid planting in soil that recently had plants from the nightshade family such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplants.
The Best Organic Fertilizers for Strawberries
The best kinds of organic fertilizers to grow plenty of healthy strawberries should contain nitrogen.
One of the best organic fertilizers you can use for organic strawberries is aged manure. This natural organic matter should be worked into the soil before planting.
Other types of organic fertilizers that are good for strawberries are fish meal, alfalfa meal, or bloodmeal with 13% nitrogen. Just be careful not to overdo the nitrogen content or you could end up with a lot of plant matter and few fruits.
The Best Companion Plants for Growing Strawberries
In addition to creating healthy organic soil to grow your strawberries, you should also plant companion plants. The best companion plants for strawberries help to increase yield, keep pests away, and help plump juicy fruits to grow.
What are the best plants to grow alongside strawberries? A 2016 study into companion plants for strawberries found that garlic is one of the best. Scientists observed that garlic together with strawberries helped to reduce the number of two-spotted spider mites. The study also found that other effective plants were chives and fennel.
Other excellent companion plants to grow near strawberries include:
- Borage (Borago officinalis)
- Bush Beans (Phaseolus)
- Caraway (Carum carvi)
The journal Insects also found that certain wildflowers are good for growing around the edges of strawberry patches. Some flowers repelled pests such as the Strawberry Sap beetle. However, some wildflowers may attract pests that you don’t want near your strawberries.
Plants to avoid
When planning the best plants for companion planting, there are some plants that you shouldn’t plant near strawberries.
Researchers from Cornell University say that you should not plant any vegetables from the cabbage (Brassica oleracea) family near strawberries.