Last year I tried something new in the garden – day-neutral strawberries. Unlike the June bearing strawberries that give one crop during the year, day-neutrals produce strawberries throughout the season.
I was really impressed with Tribute, the variety of day-neutral strawberry that I grew last season. The plants established themselves quickly and there was a fairly steady supply of strawberries from July until frost. The berries tasted good, they held up well and the only minor problem was a few picnic beetles.
I was looking forward to seeing what they would do this year. All but a couple of the plants overwintered but as the spring progressed, I noticed that while the plants were blooming, there weren’t a lot of blooms. There have been some berries but they’re few and far between. I thought that there might be more in the coming weeks but when I checked the plants closely, there are hardly any buds forming.
So what’s going on? After searching the eastern land-grant colleges’ web sites, I found out what the problem is – day-neutral strawberries are generally grown as an annual crop. That means that while the plants will over winter, to produce a decent amount of strawberries, you need to plant new plants every year. If you keep plants through the second year, the harvest drops off and you only get a few berries. While none of the companies offering these strawberry plants for sale say that they should be grown as annuals, almost all of the fruit research stations suggest this for best production.
I was glad to find an explanation to what was happening in the garden. It’s not me or the cultural conditions; it’s the strawberry plants!
I could keep the plants in the ground and be happy with the few strawberries that they’ll produce throughout the year but to me it’s not worth it. There are other things that I can grow where the strawberries are that will produce a much bigger harvest.
So will I grow day-neutral strawberries again? I don’t know. It was nice to have fresh strawberries in the summer and fall and the plants weren’t very expensive. But is growing them the best use of my garden space? Again, I’m not sure. All I do know is that I’m going to pull up the plants and say “Adios” to the day-neutral strawberries for now.