How to Grow Strawberries & Which Type Is The Best.

Why yes, I DO think you should grow strawberries this year. How to choose them, how to grow them and what to do with them.

Skip right to the planting instructions.

Not interested in growing strawberries?  Picture this: A warm scone broken in half, slathered with a layer of creamy butter and thick, sweet strawberry jam.  Good. So now you wanna grow strawberries … here’s how to do it. 

A bit of history … I have a 40′ x 40′ community garden with two full beds dedicated to growing my own strawberries.  I started to grow a few of my own strawberry plants, because really you don’t need a lot of berries to make quite a bit of jam.  Jam’s mostly sugar with a few berries thrown in for colour as far as I can tell.  Which I’m fine with by the way.  I don’t want pectin free jam, I don’t want freezer jam, I want 100% full of sugar, bad for you jam.

My original strawberry plants I got from a fellow community gardener who was giving away runners. Strawberries put out little runners and those turn into plants so if you grow strawberries you’ll always have plenty of plants to give away. 

So these berries were great for jam but they were pretty tart which made them not as great for sitting in the dirt and eating them straight off the plant. So began the search for the perfect strawberry.

A trip to my local farmer’s market introduced me to the “day neutral” variety of strawberry called Albion. It was a big berry and incredibly sweet. 

 Yay!  I had done it!  I found my next strawberry variety!  Then I spent the rest of the summer researching strawberries just in case there was something better out there.

Strawberries, like David Sedaris, are a funny little fruit.  You could read for hours and hours about them and still not entirely understand all there is to know about all of the varieties.  Not only are there a billion different varieties, they can be put into 1 of 3 categories.


Types of Strawberries

And Which ones are the Best for YOU.

JUNE BEARING – June bearing strawberries are the most common strawberries. They have one big flush of berries in June that lasts for a few weeks. The name is a bit of a misnomer because depending on where you live June bearing strawberries can actually bear fruit in May or July. In warmer zones they’ll fruit in May, and in colder zones, not until July. Best for anyone who wants a lot of berries all at once for making jams etc.

Popular June Bearing Strawberry VarietiesAnnapolis, AC Wendy, Galletta.

EVERBEARING – Everbearing strawberries give fruit 2 or 3 times a season, not just once like the June bearing strawberries. However, they don’t give you as many berries in one big flush either. You can expect smaller amounts of berries flushes; one in early summer and one in early fall. You may also get a few extra berries scattered throughout the summer.  This type also needs long day lengths to produce flowers and then fruit. Best for anyone who wants two reasonable sized harvests a year instead of one large one.

Popular Everbearing Strawberry VarietiesFort Laramie, Quinault, Ozark Beauty

DAY NEUTRAL – Day neutral strawberries don’t care about day length at all. As long as the temperature is between 1°C – 30°C  then that little plant will continue to make flowers and berries. That translates to 35°F – 85°F for my American readers. You’ll get strawberries any time conditions remain in that temperature range.  I’ve picked a strawberry as late as November in my zone 6 home in Ontario.  This type of strawberry however, doesn’t like temperatures above 30°C, so if you live in a climate with temperatures consistently over this these wouldn’t be a good choice for you. Best for anyone looking to have a constant supply of strawberries all season long. First flush is large enough for jam making.

Popular Day Neutral Strawberry Varieties – Albion, Seascape, Mara des Bois, Charlotte


After spending WAY too much time researching everything I could about strawberries I went with the Day Neutral variety, Charlotte. A variety that is  available from Lareault in North America.

It’s a strawberry that was developed in France and is a cross between the wild type of strawberry, the Mara des Bois and a Californian Cal 19 strawberry.  What that ends up creating is among the sweetest, most fragrant strawberries in the world.  The Charlotte.  

The Carrie and Miranda and pretty good too but I’d avoid the Samantha – a total tart.

Update:  The GREAT things about Day Neutral berries is their ability to give you fruit the first season. With the more popular June Bearing strawberries in the first year you’re supposed to pinch off all the flowers so the plant will spend all of its energy on growing bigger and stronger as opposed to making fruit.  You don’t have to do that with Day Neutral berries.  You can pinch off the very first flush of flowers, then get strawberries for the rest of the first year.  No year long waiting period!



How to Plant Strawberries


1. Strawberries like to grow on a hill with good drainage.  To accomplish this, dig yourself a bed that’s around 8″ high.  In that bed dig out as many holes as you need for your strawberry plants.  They should be at least 12″ apart.



2.  Fill each hole with a few handfuls of good compost.



3. Take a look at your scraggly little strawberry plant.  People call this whole thing a crown, but really the crown is the top portion that grows above the roots.  THAT is how deep you plant it. No deeper than the actual crown. You want the soil to land at the crown line where the roots meet the actual plant so all of the plant and leaves are above ground.



4.  Shape the soil in your planting holes into a dome shaped mound.



5.  Place your plant over the mound so the roots are spread out and facing down.  Make sure there’s contact between the underside of the crown and soil. No air gaps. Basically it’s like a bra on a boob.



6.  Fill in the hole with soil and press down slightly with your hands.



7.  At this point you should water in the plants. My community garden doesn’t even have the water turned on yet, so I’m going to have to count on some rain soon instead.



It looks sparse now but in a couple of months it’ll be bursting with strawberries.  Or chipmunks.  Or birds. One of the those things anyway.

I planted two beds like this for a total of 44 strawberry plants and a few months later they were covered in flowers ready to fruit.

And one year later I dug them all up and moved them into my new garden plot where I planted them under tents of hardware cloth to protect them from pests.

I moved them all when they were in full flower which is NOT the ideal time, but as long as you disturb them as little as possible it can be done. Every single plant lived to tell the tale.

The hardware cloth tent covering the berry patches keeps everything other than slugs out. For catching/drowning slugs I use beer or my homemade slug chug.

You don’t have to have this much room to grow strawberries though. As long as you keep them watered and in the sun, strawberries will thrive in hanging baskets, window boxes, pots and planters. Just remember that when you plant in smaller amounts of soil you do need to keep on top of fertilizing your plants. Add compost 



  • Lay plastic or rubber circles around the base of your strawberry plants. This helps keep the berries clean and prevents rotting.
  • As soon as your plants flower, fertilize them with composted manure or blood meal. Blood meal is also important for fertilizing onions.  The added nitrogen for this nitrogen loving plant will really improve your harvest.
  • WEED! 
  • Remove the energy sucking runners. Remember I told you that strawberry plants put out runners that turn into more plants? Remove them! You can either compost them, give them away for others to grow into plants or plant them in a new bed on their own.  

That’s it. You planted a strawberry patch and you’ve earned your Laura Ingalls Bonnet Badge.


How to Grow Strawberries & Which Type Is The Best.


  1. Codi says:

    Is it the porn that gets you into heaven, or the strawberry love that gets you into porn? I want to make sure I do this right.

  2. Patricia says:

    Unfortunately it looks like we lost a bunch of our strawberry plants over the winter. Not having the normal harsh winter I think had a lot to do with it. When we recently uncovered them, we saw that the mice took up residence in our strawberry patch and had one heck of a buffet. Eh, that’s the way it goes. If it was easy everyone would do it. New load of plants is on its way.

  3. Erin says:

    Happily, we still have one U-pick strawberry farm near Sauble Beach. It’s a great family outing and a nice way to support local farmers. I’m starting our own small patch so we can have organic production year round here at home. The plants arrive today, so great timing with your post!

  4. If there is an award for most imaginative garden writing I’d like to nominate your instructions on planting: “Make sure there’s contact between the underside of the crown and soil. No air gaps. Basically it’s like a bra on a boob.” Totally makes sense but I can’t imagine anyone else coming up with that analgoy. Genius comes in all forms ;-)

  5. Kelly says:

    Seascape are a fantastic variety too. You get big, juicy berries that aren’t seedy like some kinds. And as a coincidence, my son is eating some of the last of my frozen “me-picked” strawberries from last year in his cornflakes. Can’t believe I hoarded them for this long!

  6. I don’t know how I morphed into sweet potatoes (did you mention them in this article somewhere?) but I started looking through old posts on them and saw that you were going to do an article on planting sweet potatoes in a bin. I was thinking of doing the exact same thing this year and wondered if you ever got around to writing that article or even trying it out.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda. I’ve planted sweet potatoes in just about everything. They do really well in really large planters. Black planters are best because they retain so much heat and it’s never too hot for a sweet potato. ~ karen!

  7. Patsy says:

    Just loved picking strawberries in June in Milton, near Toronto ( in the past)…Now I get my strawberries in Prince Edward local. Love the squishiness, redness, and juiciness on a summer’s day. I make great jam with them. My strawberry plants don’t thrive but my rhubarb plant does!!! Strawberry rhubarb jam is made in my home all year round.
    Every try ground black pepper on strawberries??? Fantastic!!

  8. Renee says:

    If you like jam, you should cross the border and visit Hurd Orchards. It’s in Holley, NY. They make so many different and unique varieties of jam which all taste delicious. Hurd also creates fabulous lunches, delicious bake goods and an adorable market.

  9. Tiffany G says:

    David Sedaris is one of my top 10 faves! If you ever get a chance to see him do a reading live – jump on it! He’s hilarious & very though provoking!

    • Karen says:

      I’d love to see him speak live! And he does so much of it, I’m not sure how I’ve missed him. ~ karen!

  10. Jani says:

    Should of been whipped cream…damn auto correct!!

  11. Jani says:

    Just had a little bowl of the strawberries that I sliced yesterday. Of course had to drown them in shipped cream. Hope you do your next story on planting the asparagus. I love it! Probably more than strawberries.

  12. I agree. Homegrown strawberries are the best. Only thing is you’ll never buy store bought again unless it’s at a Farmer’s Market. Well that’s what I do. My husband has been growing strawberries for decades now and they are a completely different kettle of fish to the ones you will buy in the supermarkets. Oh my God they are gorgeous straight out of the garden. We used to move around a bit and the first thing he would do when we moved to a new place was check out the garden to see how much he could grow. He even grew Jerusalem artichokes by mistake one time (we thought they were turmeric) and they were so good. Tip. Said jerusalem artichokes may cause extreme flatulence:-) But yes, strawberries, wonderful little things..

  13. Lindy says:

    Brava brava, well done. Mara des Bois is what my strawberries are crossed with here. But I do have some Mara des Bois as well. They are not profilic – but they are my rewards for weeding sweets. Brilliantly sweet. They never make it as far as the kitchen. One thing the old folks do here (and that’s me too now) is to plant a row of leeks right next to the strawberries. Don’t ask me why and no one knows but it seems to increase both the production of the strawberries and the leeks. It’s worth a try doing it down one side of the strawberry bed to see if your yields increase. You have the room. Golly you are extravagant with your strawberries. At least you will have room for the runners in autumn.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Linda! Yes, I got a whole other 20′ x 40′ community plot. So I’ll be filling it with strawberries, asparagus, garlic and flowers. I’ll give the leeks in in one of the berry beds a shot to see if there’s any difference. Thanks! ~ karen

  14. Gayle'' says:

    This is the summer of renewal–tearing out the raised beds, leveling and terracing (building tiers), and then starting over next summer. But berries are high on my list of plants to get in.

    And my mom taught me how to buy fruit (well, most kinds, anyway). It’s always worked for me. If that fruit doesn’t smell fragrantly of what it’s supposed to be, it most certainly won’t taste like it’supposed to. No matter how pretty they look, if strawberrirs don’t smell strongly of strawberries, I won’t buy them. Lots of little tricks to get what you are paying for at the market.

  15. JulieD says:

    Great post Karen, very informative! I finally planted my own just this past fall. Day neutral so I can be a jammin’ fool all summer long! I went with a tried and true for this area-Tristar. A safe choice, but I figured I need all the help I can get for my first time growing strawberries. Charlotte sounds great- something to look forward to finding and trying.
    This year I’m trying the green beans you wrote about -Emerite.

    • Karen says:

      They’re GREAT green beans! My absolute favourite. You’ll love them and never go back to another bean. ~ karen!

  16. Alisa says:

    Finally! I’ve been waiting for the strawberry post! (I need Charlottes. I wonder where I can squeeze them in….)

  17. peg says:

    try “Pomona” pectin so you can find a balance between sugar and fruit. :D I try to buy from the farm stand,picked red not green,ripe. sAlso love my strawberries dipped in melted dark chocolate. thank for info ,wish I had room to grow them. :(

  18. Marla says:

    Karen, what is your stance as regards slug prevention on strawberries – sand, straw, eggshells? I do realize that you could probably get your chickens to do the job, but for those of us poor chicken-less folks, I’d appreciate your thoughts.

    • Karen says:

      Oh, my strawberries are far, far away from my chickens Marla. I hate slugs. I think the only thing that truly works is trapping them. Just digging a small dish into the ground so it’s lip is level with the soil and filling it with beer. Slugs slink in, then drown. You can get a LOT of slugs that way. But it’s super-gross. ~ karen!

  19. Mark says:

    You have the most interesting and glorious posts, Karen! And I even learned a new word today: proliferic! :)

  20. leo muzzin says:

    you did not mention the “straw” part about strawberries?

    • Karen says:

      LOL. No. I did not. This year mine may be strawless berries unless I get my act together. Too much to do! ~ karen

  21. Kathleen says:

    I don’t like strawberries. There I said it. I find them disappointing… it’s like reading a really good review of a movie and when you watch it, you wonder what all the hype was about! :)
    I do however thank you for an informative post. ;)

    • Mark says:

      Unfortunately, most of the many “commercial” strawberries I have had over the past three years have been extremely disappointing.

      I think the path to true enlightenment and strawberry joy are described in this column… buy local or grow your own.

    • Karen says:

      THAT’S because you haven’t had a good strawberry. They taste the way you think a strawberry is going to taste but never does. Enter … the Charlotte strawberry. ;) ~ karen!

    • Ev Wilcox says:

      Thanks Kathleen! I was wondering why I was reading this post, as strawberries and I don’t like each other one bit! I do not like them at all, and my fingers tingle when I prepare them for my husband. They are beautiful little things, but ewwww!

    • Cindy McMahan says:

      Yeah….store bought strawberries are bland unless they’re are from a local grower. The thing about these berries…and I think all berries….they do not continue to ripen once picked. And you know how it is…the containers of berries at the store have a combination of unripe, half-ripe which might as well be unripe, ripe, and moldy.

  22. Paula says:

    I did the same thing last year, but I chose ‘Kent’. The first year you are supposed to pick off the flowers so that the energy goes into the roots and that was tough to do. This year, I expect to have many strawberries; I await my reward!
    I planted some Alpine Berries, and I also transplanted some wild berries (they are tiny but sooo tasty).
    Yesterday, I finished building a frame for the bed and covering it with bird netting because I have no intention of sharing my bounty with the birds.

    Btw – I *love* strawberries.

    • Karen says:

      I can’t believe I forgot to mention the most important part about Day Neutrals! I’ll go edit my post right now. You don’t lose a season with them. The first time they flush with flowers you pick them off, but for the rest of the first season you get strawberries. There’s no waiting period of a year like with June Bearing strawberry varieties. ~ karen!

      • Paula says:

        I did not know that. I find June bearing to be the best tasting, though. I am sure you will keep us informed on the taste of this new prospect, “Charlotte”. I am now craving strawberries.

      • Paula says:

        You are also supposed to snip the runners, but I kept them and planted another bed :)

      • Cindy McMahan says:

        I need to do this…not on your mammoth scale…but on my puny one. I have two vintage Roseville planters I inherited from my grandparents. Are they called strawberry planters…the ones with holes all up and down the sides?? They’re just sitting in the carport empty and lonely. :(

  23. Sandi says:

    “Like David Sedaris”….best thing I’ve read all day!

  24. Debbie says:

    Can I be second, too. I’m never this lucky. It must be because I love strawberries. In fruit salad. With grapes. And tangerines. Yummy.

  25. Debbie says:

    I’m commenting so I can be first. Impressive rows of strawberry plants.

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