Who can resist a juicy strawberry dipped in chocolate? Well, I definitely can’t. We call them “Nature’s love fruit” because they are the perfect heart shape and make your taste buds instantly fall in love with them. Fully ripened fresh strawberries plucked straight from your garden have a rich, juicy flavor and texture which cannot be matched with strawberries bought at a super market. Savoring the juiciness and sweetness of a freshly picked strawberry is one reason you should try growing your own. Besides it’s easy to grow and prosper well in small containers or hanging baskets if you are limited in space.
In today’s blog post, we will go through the plant profile of a strawberry variety called Ozark beauty which is an ever bearing variety, easy to maintain, bears small to medium sized delicious fruits from spring up to late fall. You can plant it in full sun or partial shade, it needs at least 5 hours of full sun each day to thrive. Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil, so if soil in your area is more alkaline you can grow them in containers enriched with peat moss (which adds acidity), compost, organic matter and vermiculite to improve drainage. To make your soil more acidic and reduce alkalinity, use sulfur.
Be sure to plant your strawberry plants such that the roots are well covered with soil but the central stem or crown is exposed to sun and air, otherwise the plant may rot. Water them well and add mulch to help keep the soil moist. Fertilize well throughout the growing season to increase productivity.
The most common question we have when growing strawberries is how long do the plants produce fruits and when you should discard them? Strawberry plants are perennials, they stay dormant in winter and grow back vigorously when the soil gets warmer in spring. The first year, the strawberry plant may not produce fruits. In their 2nd and third year of growth you will notice the most optimal production of fruits so it is very important that you take good care of your plant and fertilize it during this time. After the third year of bearing fruits, you can discard the plant. Each strawberry plant produce runners which are small plants that grow around the mother plant. You can transplant these runners to have an endless supply of strawberries in your garden. And if you are producing more strawberries than you can consume, you can freeze the extra strawberries and make preserves or jams with it.
Troubleshooting some common problems that usually plague strawberry plants
Slugs often make holes in the strawberries as they begin to ripen. You can deter them from your fruits by following some of the tips we have detailed in the blog titled “Slug and snail control”.
Birds, they love to feast on ripe strawberries and by far are the worst offenders. To keep robins and other fruit eaters from feasting on your berries, cover your plants with a protective bird netting when the strawberries are beginning to ripen.
Several fungal diseases can cause some of the strawberry plant leaves to rot, turn yellow or form black spots. You can safely clip these leaves and regularly remove the dead leaves to keep your plants clean and healthy.
If you notice your fruits are smaller in size and coming out deformed, it could be because the plants are not getting enough nutrients. Use an organic fertilizer meant for vegetables and tomatoes, apply those 4-6 months in advance and regularly water your plants.
Growing Guide Video
Here is a detailed video on how to grow this wonderful strawberry variety.