Early Strawberries



I have been growing strawberries in my backyard for years, but I have never gotten more than about a half a dozen ripe berries before the first week of May. This year, I started getting a few ripe strawberries two weeks ago. Over the past 10 days, I have picked a bowl full of strawberries every few days. I have never had so many ripe strawberries before the end of April.

I attribute the early strawberries mainly to the weather. We have had warmer than average weather for the past couple of months, with many more days in the 70s and 80s in April than we typically receive. The average afternoon high temperatures here in April are in the upper 60s to low 70s. Another factor may be the variety of strawberry that I grow. I used to grow mainly Sequoia strawberries. Now most of my strawberries are Chandler, although I still have some Sequoias. Sequoias have a better flavor, but Chandler has many other advantages that make it my favorite strawberry.

Chandler produces many more berries than other varieties I have grown (which include Quinault, Seascape and Aromas), and its berries are typically larger than Sequoia. Also, Chandler doesn’t grow as many leaves as Sequoia, which makes it easier to find the berries and makes for less cover for snails and slugs to hide in. Sequoias grow lots of medium to small leaves, while Chandler tends to grow fewer but larger leaves. Finally, Chandler berries are firmer than Sequoia and less prone to rotting. I am growing all of my strawberries this year as a border around my raised garden beds.

Most of the strawberry plants I am growing now grew as runners from plants that I bought from a nursery and planted last spring. Although some people say to cut off strawberry runners, I let them grow, because I have found that strawberry runners from the previous year grow well and produce lots of berries in the next season. Often, they produce better than nursery transplants in my experience. And since strawberries only last a few years, you either have to let the runners grow or buy nursery transplants every few years to replace the old ones.

April 30 2013 08:44 pm | Strawberries