My husband and I took our toddler to a pick your own strawberry patch last year. She absolutely loved the experience. Only problem was that she loved it a bit too much. At $6 a pound, we were scared to read the scale! Turns out a toddler can pick quite a few strawberries in twenty minutes.
So that night we researched how to plant our own strawberry patch. Next thing I knew, I had convinced my husband to not only plant a few strawberry plants, but to till up half our yard and plant 250 plants.
I realize this is excessive, and it isn’t something I recommend. However, five to 10 strawberry plants will give a nice crop for your family and be a fun experience for the kids. Check out our posts on how to enjoy gardening with your little helpers here and here.
You really just need plants, dirt, and water to start your patch. We were able to harvest around 80 pounds of strawberries this year without any special equipment. With a little forethought this fall, you will be picking your own fruit before you know it.
If you plant strawberries in the spring when you’d typically think of gardening, they won’t grow fruit until the following spring. But, if you plant them in September in OKC, you will have strawberries around April. This is perfect if you’re like me and don’t like waiting an entire year to enjoy the “fruits of your labor.” Use these tips to start a patch this fall and prepare for an exciting spring:
- Buy the plants online. Our favorite variety is the Chandler strawberry. They mailed them to us with instructions on when and how to plant.
- Prepare the ground. We borrowed a tiller to make our rows, but you could use a hoe and rake to remove grass and loosen the (ridiculously hard Oklahoma) dirt. Place a handful of peat moss from your local garden store into the hole and plant the strawberry.
- Water often at first. Make sure you water daily for a couple weeks to allow the strawberries to develop strong roots.
- Tear off any “runners” that grow from the main plant and start to grow roots. You want all the energy going into developing roots right now.
- Protect them during the winter. Cover with hay, leaves, or mulch after the first couple of freezes. Enjoy all things pumpkin while you wait for spring.
- Cross your fingers and uncover the plants once the threat of freeze has passed. Water every few days to maintain healthy plants.
- Pick your delicious strawberries around mid to late April and Enjoy!
Strawberries are my family’s favorite crop to grow. They are beautiful, tasty, and the perfect addition to any meal. Nothing compares to the joys of watching your kids learn about the benefits of hard work. Growing our own food has been very rewarding for us in many ways.
For more information about gardening in Oklahoma you can also check out the Oklahoma State University extension office fact sheets. They have been an excellent resource for me as we learn about gardening in Oklahoma. So when the weather starts to turn and the kids are back in school, I hope you give gardening a try. But be warned…you may get hooked!