Is planting your strawberries part of your plan for your garden? We hear you; who wouldn’t like to have homegrown fresh strawberries? If you’ve made up your mind, then there are a few things you need to learn about the strawberry life cycle, including when and how to harvest strawberries.
Strawberries are delightful, and you can get pretty creative in the kitchen. Strawberries can be eaten fresh or sliced, used in desserts, as a salad, yogurt, oatmeal topping, or smoothies and ice cream. Even better, they are packed with vitamins, fiber, and exceptionally high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols; strawberries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food.
Though it may seem a little intimidating initially, especially if you are new to growing your food, you have nothing to worry about. Harvesting is a reasonably straightforward process. However, there are vital steps and guidelines you ought to master; and before you know it, you’ll soon become a pro at how to harvest strawberries.
How to Harvest Strawberries
- Harvesting strawberries is simple, and you do not require special tools other than your fingers. Fruit is typically ready for harvesting 4-6 weeks after blossoming.
- Grab hold of the flowering stalk behind the fruit and pull. The plants are robust and can withstand a lot of pressure as you draw; don’t worry about uprooting them. They will pop off the plants. Cut by the stem; do not pull the berry, or you could damage the plant.
- You can use any clean container to hold onto your harvest as you are picking them. Try to choose only the best berries and avoid ones that still are not entirely red. Harvest only fully red berries, and like every three days.
- For June-bearer strawberries, the harvest will last up to 3 weeks. It would help if you had an abundance of berries, depending on the variety.
How to plant strawberries?
- Provide adequate space for sprawling. Set plants out 18 inches (1-½ feet) apart to leave room for runners and 4 feet between rows. Strawberries are sprawling plants. Seedlings will send out runners, which in turn will send out their runners.
- Make planting holes deep and wide enough to accommodate the entire root system without bending. However, don’t plant too deep. The roots should be covered, but the crown should be right at the soil surface. It would help if you didn’t bury the plant’s crown, or it could rot. The leaves, flowers, and fruit must be exposed to light and fresh air.
- To settle their roots into the soil, water plants well when planting.
How to care for strawberries?
- Keep strawberry beds mulched to reduce water needs and weed invasion.
- Be diligent about weeding. Weed by hand, especially in the first months after planting.
- Moisture is essential to strawberries due to their shallow roots. Water adequately, about one inch per square foot per week.
- Fertilize with all-purpose granules for solid growth. In warm weather, berries ripen about 30 days after blossoms are fertilized.
- In the first year, pick off blossoms to discourage strawberry plants from fruiting. If not allowed to bear fruit, they will spend their food reserves developing healthy roots instead, which is a good thing. The yields will be much more significant in the second year.
- Eliminate runner plants as needed. The first and second generations produce higher yields. Try to keep daughter plants spaced about 10 inches apart.
- Row covers are a good option for protecting blossoms and fruit from birds.
Which strawberry variety should you plant?
Recommended varieties include
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Where do you cut strawberries off the plant?
To trim your strawberry plants, you must remove foliage from crops that bear fruit in the summer. Also known as summer bearers, these crops typically flower during the late spring and bear their strawberries in the summer. Snip foliage around 4 inches or 10 cm above their crowns, the aboveground parts that begin at soil level.
Do strawberries grow back after being picked?
Yes, if you take proper care of them, they will return. It would help if you did not have to replant them. The number of berries you get depends on how many nutrients the strawberry plants get. They won’t do well if they are tightly packed in a container.
How do you pick homegrown strawberries?
Simply pinch through the stalks with your finger and thumb to avoid bruising the fruit. As strawberries are perishable, it’s best to eat them straight from the plant, ideally still warm from the sun. You can store unwashed fruit for a few days in the fridge.
How do you pick strawberries without damaging plants?
The best way to ensure you don’t damage the berries you’re picking is to sever them from the plant at the stem. Gently twist it between your fingers and pull lightly. Allow the strawberry to roll down into your palm, and continue the process until your hand is complete; that can usually mean between 3 and 4 berries.
When to harvest strawberries?
Strawberries are their sweetest when fully ripened on the plants. For most varieties, this means leaving the berries on the plant for a day or two after they are fully colored. Most types will be ready to start picking within four to six weeks after they bloom.
How to know when strawberries are ripe?
Your strawberries will ripen for a week or two. Since the strawberry size is specific to variety, the best way to know when it fully ripens is to look at its color. As they mature, the fruit will transition from white to light pink with white spots to wholly pink, red, and burgundy when ready to pick.
The best time to pick one is when the berry is entirely red and firm.
Check daily and harvest all that are ripe, but don’t rush them. Strawberries with green tips are not ready to pick, no matter how red the stem end is. On the other hand, please don’t leave them to become overly ripe.
What is the hardest part of harvesting strawberries?
They were fending off hungry animals. Unfortunately, animals are not as picky about ripeness. They will start nibbling days before we’re ready to harvest.
It is a good idea to consider tossing a lightweight row cover over the berries when they are getting close to harvest time.
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How to store strawberries?
The sad truth is that strawberries have a concise shelf life. You would want to use them within a couple of days of harvest. They can still bruise after they are harvested and should be handled gently.
- Try and find an excellent spot, with no direct sunlight, to store them.
- Although refrigeration can diminish their flavor, leaving them on the counter when it’s hot can be even worse.
- It’s also best not to rinse them off until you are ready to use them. If you have too many to use, you can freeze berries for use later.
Strawberries will store best under refrigeration, between 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to preserve strawberries for longer?
- You can freeze them by placing them whole or sliced on a baking sheet in the freezer for a few hours, then moving them into a freezer-safe container. This will prevent the berries from clumping together when frozen. Strawberries can be frozen whole for about two months.
- Strawberries can also be sliced, dehydrated, freeze-dried, and made into jams, jellies, and syrups.
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Additional Tips on How to Harvest Strawberries
- Strawberries bruise easily. Be gentle when pulling them from the plants. You don’t want the stem removed entirely from the berry, leaving an open wound for disease to sneak in.
- If possible, harvest at a fantastic time of day. Warm berries are much softer and more easily bruised than excellent berries.
- If you notice any that are too ripe and unsalvageable, you should remove them, place them in their container, and compost them. This helps keep your garden clean and your plants productive.