CLAY COUNTY – One of the many crops Florida is known for is strawberries, with the southern part of the state known as the “winter strawberry capital of the world”. While that …
CLAY COUNTY – One of the many crops Florida is known for is strawberries, with the southern part of the state known as the “winter strawberry capital of the world”. While that region may boast the best growing conditions due to their lack of frost, we can still grow plenty of this sweet fruit in our home gardens.
Strawberries in Florida
Growing up on a farm in Delaware, I distinctly remember growing about a quarter acre of strawberries each year, starting the in the spring, protecting them for one year and then harvesting the next. In Florida, we treat our strawberries as annuals as they do not survive well through our summers. It is also important to know that many of the common varieties grown elsewhere in the country may not be suited to our climate. Look for ‘Camarosa’, ‘Sweet Charlie’, or ‘Festival’ for your garden.
The recommended time to plant strawberries runs from September 15th through October 15th. Buy transplants or runners in one of the varieties listed above in full sun. Fruit production will then begin usually starting in November and occur throughout the winter and early spring in cycles and can be interrupted by frosts and freeze.
In production settings, the plants are usually planted in a raised row, much like a raised bed, which is covered in a solid plastic sheet mulch to prevent weeds. Under this, an irrigation line made of drip tape is run as well to provide water. Plants are placed in cut slits in the plastic. A diagram of this can be found in the Growing Strawberries in the Florida Home Garden fact sheet found at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs403. This can be emulated in the home garden but if not ,you do want your plants to be grown in an organic, well-drained soil. Many different containers and pots can also be used for strawberry production.
After planting, irrigation may be needed during dry periods. For fertilization Two pounds of 10-5-10 (or equivalent) garden fertilizer with micronutrients (including boron) per 10 feet of row should be incorporated into the bed before planting with at least 50% of it being in a slow release form.