Planting strawberries or raspberries enables a gardener to harvest fruit in the first season. In both cases it is the everbearing varieties that allow this. June bearing strawberries and most cane fruits need to spend a winter in place before a harvest. Both are soft fruits that tend to absorb sprays. Strawberries are consistently on top ten lists of produce most tainted with chemical residue. By growing our own, we reduce chemical exposure and harvest at peak ripeness rather than when they ship best.
Cane fruits and strawberries both need well drained soil. Wet feet will lead to disease and failure. A raised bed is especially helpful on clay soils to improve drainage. Netting to protect ripening fruit from birds is needed unless yellow fruiting varieties are selected. The net should not rest on the plant or birds will still reach some fruit. A stake with an inverted mason jar or tin can will support netting.
Everbearing raspberries can be pruned in two ways. They bear on first and second year growth. Pruning very short or mowing canes at the end of the season allows only first year growth. This method results in less disease. It does result in only a late summer harvest instead of a more extended season. Other cane fruits need to be pruned after the second year canes bear. First year growth is left or thinned if needed to allow some to produce the following year. Raspberries can be invasive and an untended patch becomes a mess of brambles. Pruning and training are needed.
Strawberries can be grown successfully in a number of ways. Traditionally, new plants are set out in the fall for a harvest the following Spring. This is for “June-bearing” varieties which produce in May in Chattanooga. They produce a large crop over a three week period. For jams or freezing, June-bearers yield the most. For those who want a few fruits for salads, smoothies, or cereal over a longer period, everbearing (or day-neutral) varieties may be the choice. Growing strawberries in containers is a good option as they are shallow rooted.
Growing strawberries in part shade is possible. Afternoon shade is helpful for the tiny but very tasty Alpine strawberry varieties.
This is my final post in the backyard fruit series. If you don’t plant in your space, you won’t harvest from your space. Good luck growing!